By Staff Sgt. Adora GonzalezMay 3, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Last year, for the first time, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, more commonly know as The Old Guard, participated in the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.
The three-day competition, known for its high attrition rate, began with 49 teams and ended with less than half of that number.
Competing in what is known as the Army's toughest two-man competition, taught Capt. Derrick Anderson and Staff Sgt. Chris Malone, last years' Old guard rookie participants, what to expect as they return to the 2010 Best Ranger Competition, nearly a year later.
"You can't put a price on experience." Maj. Jerem Swenddal, Old Guard Best Ranger Competition coach said of this years' two-man team. "As physical as this competition is, it ultimately comes down to mental preparation. Both candidates are extremely physically fit, but they have what it takes mentally, and that is almost even more important."
Aside from gained knowledge and experience the two Rangers underwent months of extensive training to prepare for what's to come.
"They bring a real personal drive to succeed. No matter what I threw at them they always tried their hardest and really motivated themselves and each other throughout the whole train-up." Swenddal said. "Physically, both Capt. Anderson and Staff Sgt. Malone are both stronger, faster, and have greater endurance than when they started," he continued.
The train-up encompassed physical training and knowledge of tactical tasks to include working extensively with various weapons systems, practicing explosive charges, refining medical skills, grenade throwing, communication skills, land navigation and Basic Airborne Refresher (BAR) training, to name a few.
The veteran competitors have worked hard to reach their maximum potential and to learn each others' strengths and weaknesses, an asset in the two-man competition.
Though the team faced many obstacles, to include this years' blizzard and the minimal training grounds here on in the Washington D.C. area, the Rangers continued to train in the snow and found alternative locations to accomplish their training objectives.
Despite these challenges the Old Guard Rangers remain true to their motto "leading the way" and setting the precedence for future Old Guard competitors.
The toughest part still lies ahead as the two-man team is slated to compete, May 7-9, to represent the oldest active Infantry Regiment in the U.S Army.