CAMP DODGE, Iowa - This year was the 3rd Reserve Officer Training Corps Brigade’s second year hosting the Ranger Challenge, which took place Nov. 3 at Camp Dodge, Iowa. Col. Dean Shultis, commander of the 3rd ROTC Brigade, said that this year showed improvement over last year’s competition, attributing the success to a revised set of requirements and a strong cadre.
“This year showed vast improvement,” Shultis said. “This year we added a significant mental component and didn’t tell [the cadets] how to do everything. They had to execute each event and figure it out as they went.”
Shultis said that this year’s Ranger Challenge was more in line with the expectations that lieutenants face in real-world situations. The competitive events this year created more uncertainty and stress that required the cadets to respond effectively under pressure.
Altering the competition itself was not the only reason the challenge was successful this year. Shultis added that the “team effort” from a strong support staff contributed to the success as well.
The 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), located at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, provided several Soldiers to help the Ranger Challenge run smoothly.
Sgt. 1st Class Tom Smith, a Soldier in the Support Operations section with the 103rd ESC, was a support staff member at the competition who worked on the hand grenade assault lane. He said that he recognized the integral role that the support volunteers played throughout the weekend.
“[The 3rd ROTC Bde.] definitely couldn’t have done some parts of the challenge without the support here to help,” Smith said.
Another 103rd ESC volunteer for the event was Sgt. 1st Class Steve Schirm, a staff-movements noncommissioned officer with the 649th Regional Support Group, 103rd ESC. Schirm said that he enjoyed watching the cadets challenge themselves throughout the weekend, but that they would not have benefitted as much from the event without the support staff there to help out.
“We’re here to give them the best training opportunity as possible,” he said. “Without it, they are not going to get everything that they should get out of [the Ranger Challenge].”
Soldiers with the 103rd ESC supported the Ranger Challenge throughout the entire weekend, but played a major role in the competition’s first event, weapons qualification. Shultis said that the help from all of the staff was an important part of the event’s success as a whole.
“Without support, this would be impossible,” he said.