WASHINGTON — The squad from the 75th Ranger Regiment had been rucking all day and night trying to find a final navigation point during the inaugural Best Squad Competition. They had gotten off course and were unsure of what to do next.
The uncertainty might rattle others but not this tight-knit group. This was just another day in the field for them.
“We really know each other’s weaknesses and strengths,” said Sgt. Coy Anderson, squad member and Plainfield, Indiana native. “We’re like brothers. We’re around each other every single day, that’s what makes us special.”
They rallied, rethought their approach, found that last navigation point and went on to be named the Army’s best squad.
In previous years, the BSC was known as the Best Warrior Competition and focused on challenging individual Soldiers. The Army made a change in 2022 to emphasize team building.
Twelve squads from throughout the service competed in the weeklong event at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Each squad consisting of a squad leader (sergeant first class or staff sergeant), team leader (sergeant or corporal) and three members (specialist or below).
The squads were tested on their technical and tactical proficiency, as well as their ability to work as a cohesive team. They participated in a wide range of events including the Army Combat Fitness Test, strenuous ruck marches, squad battle drills, weapons lanes and individual warrior tasks.
“[This] initiative isn’t just about the traditional infantry soldier,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said. “It’s about those small groups of soldiers who really know and care about each other and hold each other to a high standard of proficiency, discipline and fitness.”
To hear them tell it, the sergeant major got just what he hoped for.
This wasn’t a hand-picked squad of individual Soldiers, they were a team that had spent over a year working together to be the best they could.
“The comradery and team building wasn’t happening out there [during the competition], it was already done,” said Staff Sgt. Devon Simpson, squad leader and Jacksonville, North Carolina native. “We already had trusted systems in place.”
The squad pushed each other through several lower-level competitions, one more challenging than the next, before making their way to Fort Bragg for the big one.
“The biggest challenge was probably the unknown,” said Sgt. Jonathan Warren, squad member and St. Paul, Minnesota native. We never really knew what was being graded so we just took advantage of the situation and were always pushing hard.
The four squad finalists from Fort Bragg went to Washington, D.C. where they were evaluated on their knowledge and professionalism in front of Army leaders with the Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment taking the title.
“It was cool to go through the experience with the guys I went through because they’re my best friends,” said Anderson. “It’s humbling to be a part of a unit like that.”