Fort Benning, Ga. — Service members from throughout the Department of Defense and U.S. partner nations converged on Fort Benning to showcase their combat skills during Infantry Week April 10-17.
Infantry Week is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Army Infantry School, part of Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, and is packed with events which are some of the most physically demanding and mentally tough challenges any warfighter can face in an Army competition. Infantry Week consists of four events: the International Sniper Competition, the Lacerda Cup All-Army Combatives Competition, the Best Mortar Competition, and the Best Ranger Competition.
“It’s about instilling the warrior spirit in our Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Burris, U.S. Army Infantry School commandant. “We train constantly to make sure we’re able to defeat our adversaries in the event we’re called upon.”
International Sniper Competition
The International Sniper Competition in a three-day test of precision, technique, teamwork, and rigorous physical, mental, and technical events.
This year marked the 23rd year of the ISC and included teams from the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, Special Operations Command, and international teams from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Canada, Estonia, and United Kingdom.
The ISC mirrors the conditions and missions associated with sniper deployment in large scale combat operations. In accordance with Army doctrine, competing sniper teams are composed of three snipers including a team leader.
The competition promotes esprit de corps among the sniper community, identifies the best sniper team, and fosters a culture of interoperability between U.S., joint forces and international sniper teams. This year’s top accolade went to an Army National Guard team.
Sgt. 1st Class Erik Vargas with New Mexico’s All Guard Team said, “We came here with a mission, and that mission was to win. We had our ups and downs, we were not going to give up, we were not going to quit. We were able to complete the mission and that is exactly what we came here to do.”
The Lacerda Cup All-Army Combatives Competition featured teams of eight individuals from across the Army who competed in a three-day event highlighting hand-to-hand fighting skills for the tournament title. Soldiers went head-to-head in matches against opponents within their respective weight classes.
The competition was designed to enhance unit combat readiness by building personal courage, confidence, and resiliency as well as situational responsiveness to close-quarters threats in the operational environment.
The teams’ championship was claimed by the XVIII Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, N.C.
Individual winners in each weight class were Bantamweight champion Sgt. Lopez Goyea with 7th Transportation Brigade; Flyweight champion Sgt. Patrick Terry with 4th Infantry Division’s combatives team; Lightweight champion Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Grove with 4th Infantry Division; Welterweight champion 1st Lt. Dylan Van Sickell with 10th Mountain Division’s combatives team; Middleweight champion Sgt. 1st Class Kenry Trowers with 173rd Airborne Brigade; Light heavyweight champion 1st Lt. Grant Pierson with 25th Infantry Division; and Heavyweight champion Spc. Luther Egerson with 25th Infantry Division.
“I want to help my family, so to me winning matters,” Egerson stated. “My legacy matters. I want to be a great champion, an Army warrior and a role model for young men and women across the Army.”
The Best Mortar three-day competition featured the Army Combat Fitness Test, four mortar skills exams, live-fire events on the 60-mm, 81-mm, and 120-mm mortar systems, night operations, land navigation, and an obstacle course.
The winners of the Best Mortar Competition were a team representing the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Spc. Vincent Tolentino with 35th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division won best individual “top shot” mortarman and said the team spent a lot of time training at their home station of Scofield Barracks, Hawaii.
“For me winning matters, we trained a lot and to become top shot in this competition was a big thing for me. I didn't know I was going to be a top shot, but with all the training… it came out really good for our team,” Tolentino said.
The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade hosted the 39th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition, beginning at Camp Rogers. Over the course of the three-day competition, Ranger teams from across the Army traversed over 60 miles on foot with combat equipment, weighing more than 80 pounds, through unknown terrain and events.
“In the Army, the culture is about winning,” said Burris. “There’s no second place in our business.”
Testing technical, tactical, and physical capabilities in events ranging from small arms to anti-tank weapons and explosives, two-man Ranger buddy teams competed head-to-head in a variety of demanding combat-related tasks. In all, 56 teams competed for the title of Best Ranger.
The winners of the 2023 David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition, representing the 75th Ranger Regiment, were Spc. Justin Rein and Capt. Luke Ebeling.
“We were excited to represent the Ranger Regiment, and we wanted to do well not only to show the Army what we are capable of, but to inspire the next generation of Rangers. We hope they are inspired to do the same thing – never to quit and always place the mission first,” said Rein.
Ebeling noted the Army’s Ranger Regiment has “winners in all circles,” from mortars and shooting to fitness. “Being a part of that legacy and getting the best shooting instructions, getting the best physical fitness instructions, puts us in a position to be able to win and represent well for the Army and especially the Ranger Regiment,” he said.
“It’s a great week to demonstrate what the Army is all about,” Burris added.
Congratulations to all the winners! The link to Infantry Week gallery.