FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Arriving from U.S. Army units across the world and from one sister service, 54 two-man Ranger teams gathered before dawn April 12 at Camp Rogers here.

The teams are competing over three days and two nights to earn the title of "best ranger" during the 36th David E. Granger Jr. Best Ranger Competition April 12 through 14 with an awards ceremony scheduled for April 15.

The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, which conducts the 61-day Ranger Course, organized the competition.

After the posting of the colors by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) and the singing of the national anthem, a master of ceremonies announced the competitors team by team, and they ran forward, posed beneath a large Ranger tab and made final preparations for the 6 a.m. start to the competition.

The Soldiers came from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 25th Infantry Divisions; the 1st Armored Division; the 10th Mountain Division; the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions; the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment; the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment; 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team; U.S. Army Alaska; U.S. Army Special Operations Command; the 75th Ranger Regiment; the 2nd and 3rd Stryker Cavalry Regiment; the 199th Infantry at Fort Benning; the Asymmetric Warfare Group; the ARTB; the U.S. Military Academy; the National Guard; U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command; and 1st Army, Division East. In addition to the Army competitors, one team from the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Riley, Kansas, were there representing the U.S. Air Force.

The Ranger-qualified competitors take part in a series of events to test their physical stamina, technical acumen and marksmanship. The first event of the day was the mass start run.

In keeping with a World War II theme because of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, two World War II veterans helped start off the competition. Robert E. Passanisi, a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame and Merrill's Marauder during World War II, and Rudolph Huereque, a member of the 5th Battalion Rangers in World War II, fired the starting pistol that began the competition.

The crowd cheered as the teams ran past. After five miles and the better part of an hour, teams arrived back at Camp Rogers, moving to the Malvesti Field obstacle course, where they dragged a weighted litter, performed pull-ups, crawled through water under barbed wire, swung beneath a horizontal ladder, scaled and descended a vertical ladder, climbed a rope and finished with more pull-ups at the end of the obstacle course.

After the obstacle course, teams performed a weighted carry to Victory Pond, which they swam across to take part in a body armor run to the Selby Combined Arms Collective Training Facility. At Selby CACTF they conducted an urban assault course. After completing the urban assault course, teams took a helicopter to Oscar Range, where they descended from the hovering helicopter by rope.

Until this evening, the teams are scheduled to conduct weapons qualifications at Oscar Range on the north side of Fort Benning before going on the evening foot march.

The teams are scored according to their performance and time on the different events, and after the evening foot march, which is scheduled to conclude at 1 a.m., only the top 28 teams will be allowed to continue to the second day's events, which include night stakes and day stakes, two round-robin events where the teams complete a variety of tasks.

After day stakes, an event open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 13 at Todd Field, the teams perform night orienteering, which takes them into the third and final day of competition.

The Best Ranger Competition is final of three multi-day competitions taking place during Infantry Week at Fort Benning. The Best Mortar Competition concluded April 11, and the Lacerda Cup combatives tournament concluded April 12.

To keep up with the Best Ranger Competition as it happens, visit the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Facebook page at www.fb.com/FortBenningMCoE for updates.

For photos of the competition, updated throughout the competition, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com.

For news of the event as it occurs, visit www.army.mil/benning.