JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – When 400 Cadets participated in this year’s 2nd Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition here Oct.6, they tested their physical, mental and emotional endurance throughout a series of traditional Army training lanes.
But during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care lane, these future soldiers put their tactical and technical skills to the test during a real-world scenario that mirrored situations currently experienced by troops in combat.
“This event really gets at the heart of what the military is all about,” said Col. Twala Mathis, commander of 2nd Brigade (ROTC), U.S. Army Cadet Command. “It’s about coming together as a team and being emotionally challenged, being physically challenged, and at the same time understanding an environment that’s very complex and dangerous at times.”
In the TCCC lane, Cadets were required to treat a casualty while facing simulated small-arms fire, then move that casualty and any “wounded” members of their team to safety behind cover, and finally move the entire team through several obstacles to safety.
“This environment is all-inclusive,” Mathis explained. “The cadets are challenged physically and emotionally, and then there’s a mix of some of the realism and the tough, dangerous aspect of what we do.”
The TCCC lane differs from the other Ranger Challenge events in that it adds an aspect of realism to an already challenging set of physical, emotional and mental stressors.
“The mental-toughness portion is the time constraint, of getting on that lane and only having a certain amount of time to accomplish what they need to do,” explained Master Sgt. Thomas Jones, operations non-commissioned officer in charge of 2nd Brigade. “That’s where the decision-making process of that team captain has to say, ‘Okay, let’s go, we have to get these (Cadets) motivated.’
“I think that’s critical when you get to the Tactical Combat Casualty Care lane,” he continued. “Those are some of the same things you have in the operational environment.”
In addition to the TCCC lane, the annual 2nd Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition tested Cadets’ warrior skills in events such as the Obstacle Course, Confidence Course, Rappel Tower, One-Rope Bridge, Boat Movement Lane, Hand Grenade Assault Course, Weapons Lane and Commander’s Challenge.
At this year’s Ranger Challenge, 42 ROTC teams from colleges and universities throughout the northeastern United States were joined by teams from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
“This year is definitely more critical-thinking skills,” said Cadet Chris Provenzano, a junior and team captain from the Rochester Institute of Technology. “If we have a chance to do that here, having the skills to treat casualties, then it’s not all about being athletic, it’s about using your mind.”
“When you’re challenged out here during Ranger Challenge, it’s a true view of other people’s character,” explained Cadet Kathryn Leonard, a senior and team executive officer from the U.S. Military Academy.
“I think that it’s important that we’re able to react in a high-stress situation,” she added. “The way you react in those two seconds is a matter of life and death for not only your but your soldiers.”