Two Soldiers from the Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) competed in the Army’s 39th annual Best Ranger Competition April 14-16 in Fort Benning, Georgia.
The competition began with 56 two-man teams and was packed with extreme trials, including back-to-back physical, mental, technical and tactical challenges all weekend long. Lengthy runs, slippery obstacle courses, live-fire exercises and nighttime ruck marches made this competition true to the Ranger slogan, “Not for the weak or faint-hearted.”
1st Sgt. Sam Meadows and Master Sgt. Matthew Deane in Team 55 represented SATMO, the Security Assistance Command and the Army Materiel Command. This was their first time competing in the Best Ranger Competition.
Meadows is an infantryman who has served in the Army for 16 years. Meadows said he always believed that competition breeds excellence and will show him his own strengths and weaknesses, which in turn will help him become the best Soldier he can be.
“I have been told that the Best Ranger Competition is the hardest that the Army has to offer,” Meadows said.
In preparation for the competition, he trained on multiple radio platforms, tactical combat casualty care, breaching techniques, weapons assembly/disassembly/functions checks, climbing techniques, mortar firing positions, call for fire and Ranger. He spent multiple weeks honing his marksmanship skills across various weapons systems. He also conducted extensive fitness training to prepare himself physically.
“I am always looking for a new challenge and my decision to participate in this event was solely based on getting out there in the arena and competing alongside the best Soldiers that the Army has to offer,” Meadows said.
Deane of Urbana, Ohio, 38, has been an active-duty cavalry scout for 17 years.
“I want to compete this year because it has been a lifetime goal of mine to seize this amazing opportunity and show the Ranger community that, even though I earned my Ranger Tab in 2014, I continue to serve with the distinction of what the Ranger Tab means,” Deane said. “I also feel that it’s an honor to represent AMC, USASAC and SATMO in this competition.”
Deane trained up to four months in preparation for the competition. His training included exhaustive ruck marches, running, swimming, weight training, cross-fit, cycling, weapon training, prusik climbs, radio training, land navigation, call for fire, marksmanship and mortar training.
“To be honest the amount of training to win has always been a mystery because there has never been an exact amount you need to do. However, Meadows and I have trained harder for this competition than for anything I have ever pursued, including going to Ranger School,” Deane said.
After a 3 a.m. wakeup call on Day 1, scattered with unexpected rainfall, the SATMO Soldiers were determined to push themselves physically and mentally as they moved from one event to the next.
“The very first event was way harder than we’d thought it would be,” Meadows said.
The two started the morning with a run-swim-run carrying a 90-pound sack before moving to the Malvesti O-course and the Army Combat Fitness Test. “All the things we’ve done over the last 90 days has paid off. I can still feel plenty of energy, and my recovery is not bad. I feel a little tightness, but we pushed it hard. It was just a brutal first event,” Deane said.
After completing the urban assault course, A-armor weapon EMPL, machine gun event, shotgun and pistol event, they tackled the overnight ruck march.
Both Rangers said the Army has given them plenty of opportunities to grow and find their passions. The Best Ranger Competition was a grueling challenge, but Meadows and Deane are thankful for the ability to compete, the support system and the community that stuck with them through it all.
When asked about how it feels to compete for SATMO, Deane called it a “special opportunity because everywhere I’ve gone, it’s always unlikely that they can send us to something like this because we’re always needed somewhere else. Coming to SATMO, everyone has supported us throughout this entire thing, and you know it’s great to get our name out there and let everyone know who we are – SATMO, USASAC, AMC. When we first sent our packet, it was almost like they said ‘SATMO? Who’s this?’ It’s awesome that we’re shining light on our organization and letting everyone know who we are.”