CAMP DODGE, IA, UNITED STATES
By Sgt. Matthew Diehl, 203rd Public Affairs Detachment,
and Spc. Emily Walter, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs Office
CAMP DODGE, Iowa – Twelve teams of Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from nine different colleges and universities competed in a three-day, comprehensive tactical challenge hosted by the 3rd ROTC Brigade, Nov. 3, at Camp Dodge, Iowa. Both the male and the female teams from the University of North Dakota left with the first-place trophies and bragging rights for their school’s ROTC program.
Trevor Schmitt, a fourth-year cadet from the male UND team, credited the team’s win to the members’ daily training. “[The team member] put their hearts and minds into it,” Schmitt said. “It’s real for us.”
The 12 teams were split into two categories: seven male teams and five female teams. Altogether, the teams represented nine different Midwestern colleges and universities. For males, the University of Central Missouri and Iowa State University took second and third place, respectively. Coming in second and third place for the female teams were cadets from the Northern Michigan University and Missouri State University, respectively.
The Ranger Challenge included 11 events that tested the cadets’ mental, tactical, and physical toughness. From conducting an Army Physical Fitness Test to engaging a theoretical enemy during the hand grenade assault course, the cadets proved their wherewithal during a broad selection of challenges. Each team earned points based on their performance in each event; the UND teams accumulated 130 points by the end of the event.
Cadets are not required to participate in the Ranger Challenge, but Col. Dean Shultis, commander of the 3rd ROTC Brigade, said that it undoubtedly sets the competing cadets apart from the rest. “There are thousands of cadets who don’t compete [in the Ranger Challenge],” Shultis said to the Soldiers during the opening ceremony. “You are going to be better cadets.”
Shultis said that the Ranger Challenge provides an opportunity for cadets to interact with other schools’ ROTC programs and to put their knowledge to the test in a competitive environment. “It’s about giving cadets and opportunity to challenge themselves above and beyond what they would get during their ROTC curriculum,” he said. “It’s about testing them mentally and physically to prepare them to be better lieutenants, better students, better leaders.”
Meghan Ripperger, a cadet from the female ISU team and a dietician major in her second year of ROTC, said that while the competition was physically and mentally taxing, it promoted a better sense of teamwork.
“[The competition] challenges our relationships but keeps us united at the same time,” Ripperger said.
Shultis said that the teams that showed a greater sense of team cohesion tended to perform most effectively during the Ranger Challenge events, whereas the teams that tried to execute the challenges as quickly as possible without planning together tended to stumble.
“Teams doing the best are putting a plan in place and adjusting as they go,” Shultis said. “Getting here is one thing, but then executing this higher level event and getting through it as a team creates a greater sense of accomplishment.”
In the end, Shultis said that sense of accomplishment was more important than whether the teams won or lost. He said that the teams worked hard to get to the challenge in the first place, and that alone represents each school and ROTC program well.
“It’s really an honor for these teams to get here,” he said. “Whether they won or not, [the experience] will stay with them beyond their years as a cadet and into their years as a lieutenant.”
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This work, Ranger Challenge puts cadets’ minds, bodies to the test, by SGT Emily Walter, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.