By Sgt Robert M England (2nd BCT, 25th ID )December 15, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Nine Ranger-qualified Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, "Warriors," 25th Infantry Division, competed in the Best Ranger Competition tryouts Dec. 6 and 7 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The tryouts yielded the Soldiers that will represent the 25th Infantry Division at the annual Best Ranger Competition at Ft. Benning, Ga., in April 2012.
The tryouts, a competition that spanned over 30 hours across Schofield Barracks and East Range, tested the Ranger Warriors' knowledge, stamina and mental fortitude in events ranging from swimming to iron sight M4 qualification.
The tryouts began with a Ranger Physical Fitness Test. Candidates completed two minutes' worth of push-ups and sit-ups, a timed five-mile run and ended with chin-ups. From there, the candidates moved to a weapon range on Schofield Barracks for M4 qualification using only the standard sights fitted to the weapons.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Diaz, the Pre-Ranger Program noncommissioned officer in charge for 2nd BCT, said that the candidates then road marched approximately 16 miles to East Range for a day and night land navigation course.
Following the completion of the land navigation portion, the candidates completed the Air Assault obstacle course at East Range and then moved on to the Ranger Stakes.
Diaz said that Ranger Stakes tested Soldier skills with disassembly and reassembly of the M240B, the M249 squad automatic weapon, the M14 and the M9 pistol. Candidates also applied their knowledge of knot-tying. The Ranger Stakes concluded with a disassembly and reassembly of the M4 carbine blindfolded.
After completing the Ranger Stakes, the candidates moved to Richardson Pool at Schofield Barracks for the final portion of the tryouts, a revised combat water survival test.
Sgt. Maj. Henry Sitzler, the training and operations noncommissioned officer in charge for 2nd BCT, said the CWST consisted of a 250-meter swim in the Army Combat Uniform, a "ditch and down" where the candidates jumped into the pool with a front load carrying vest and dummy M4 and then discarded the gear before swimming to the side of the pool. The CWST concluded with a three-meter drop into the pool and then a short swim to the side of the pool.
With the completion of the tryouts on an individual level, Diaz said the candidates will be assigned to special duty and enter a training phase beginning in January 2012. This special duty status will allow them to train uninhibited for five days a week from January through March.
During the training phase, Sitzler said the candidates should expect a rigorous regimen that will test and hone their physical endurance and Soldier skills.
"Candidates will be biking about 150 miles a week, running in excess of 60 miles a week, road marching 50 miles a week and swimming about 10 miles a week," Sitzler said. "They will also be improving their Soldier skills pertaining to radio communication, first aid and demolitions."
Though the candidates completed the tryouts on an individual level, the Army-wide competition in April will be completed in two-man buddy teams. Sitzler said that the 25th Inf. Div. teams will be assembled near the end of the training phase. Personalities, character traits and areas of expertise will all be considered when putting the teams together.
"What we'll do is go through the training, and then we will pair them up based on their individual strengths and weaknesses," he said.
Once assembled, the teams will be flown to Ft. Benning, to compete with teams representing other units in the Best Ranger Competition.
In addition to the prestige of participating in the Best Ranger Competition, Diaz said that the competition has another benefit.
"It provides knowledgeable, physically fit platoon leaders and platoon sergeants at the ground level," Diaz said. "It also benefits the units' esprit de corps by building the morale for Soldiers to see someone from their unit participating in one of the hardest competitions against other elite Soldiers Army-wide."