The selection of Ranger teams is underway for the 28th annual Best Ranger Competition. Seventy-nine teams are competing for 50 available slots.

The Army will "find out who is truly the best Ranger team," said Sgt. Maj. Steve Perdue, Ranger Training Brigade's operations sergeant major.

The brigade oversees the three-day competition, which challenges two-man Ranger teams in events that test their physical conditioning, Ranger skills and team strategies. The events are scheduled around the clock from the start of the competition to the finish line. The competition will be April 15-17.

Conducted on a "come as you are" basis, no tasks or events are announced prior to the competition, competition organizers said. Last week, units Armywide were told how many team slots they would be allocated in this year's competition. Allocation ensures maximum representation from all major commands and gives priority first to Ranger units, then Forces Command and TDA units," said CPT Joshua Ollek, assistant operations officer for RTB.

The Ranger Training Brigade has 12 teams competing for nine slots. The winning teams will be notified Feb. 23, said Master Sgt. Michael Hack, who will assess their skills before the teams are determined.

Hack, the brigade's senior tactical assistance commander, is a former competitor and the BRC coach for the brigade's teams. He will put the brigade's teams through a condensed eight-week training program that models the 12-week program he used when coaching Sgts. 1st Class Chad Stackpole and Blake Simms, who won the competition in 2009.

Hack said his advice for teams is this: "If you have a bad event, just forget about it and move on. Because if you start carrying that with you - keeping it in your mind, being upset with the previous event - it will affect your follow-on event. It's a marathon from start to finish."

Hack's former BRC teammate, Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Higley, is hoping for a berth in this year's competition. "I like doing this kind of stuff - this is what we want to do every day," said Higley, an instructor with the Ranger School. The pair finished 11th in 2007 and Higley is hoping to win this year.

"We didn't do anything wrong but we weren't as clean as we needed to be," said Higley of his 2007 run. "Physically we were as good as anyone in the competition, but you have to have a really clean run in order to win."

Higley is partnered with Sgt. 1st Class Derek Wise, who competed in the 2009 competition while on mid-tour leave from Iraq. Hack said the key to being in BRC's top five is how hard you train beforehand.

"If you're not training 10 to 12 hours a day, both physically and on the technical side, you will not be competitive in the top five slots when it's game day," he said.

With only nine weeks left to prepare, there's no time to waste.