FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – After last year’s Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning was canceled due to COVID-19, soldiers from all over the country have waited for more than a year to compete in the prestigious event.
April 16 was day one of the three day event. Ranger-qualified soldiers competed in teams of two for the title of Best Ranger. Rangers shoot from eight different ranges and complete various Ranger tasks such as medical, marksmanship, swimming, rope climbing and more. Over the next three days, these Rangers will cover more than 75 miles on foot.
There are women who have completed Ranger school and are qualified to enter the Best Ranger Competition. There are no women competing in this year’s competition, but Fort Benning’s Commander of the Airborne Ranger Training Bigrade, Colonel Antwan Dunmyer, believes it’s not about male or female.
“It won’t shake it up at all, it’s not about male or female. Once you’re under a coveted ranger tab…you’re a ranger, and that’s all that matters. The same 61 days that a male goes through in ranger school is the same 61 days and requires the same mental and physical toughness that a female will have to be able to come out and do this.”
Even though last year’s event was canceled, Dunmyer said this does not give Rangers an advantage in the competition. Rangers prepare non-stop.
“There’s no additional time that they particularly get to train, they’re training as they go as they’re building lethal teams and squads for our Army. But this year is very unique, because we didn’t do it last year. This year right here is our time as the Army to show our ability to not get ready but to stay ready.”
Even though this is an outdoor activity, Fort Benning has asked all spectators to wear a mask and when Rangers are not competing to wear a mask as well. In order for Rangers to compete, they had to test negative for COVID-19.
Dunmyer has been a Ranger for over 20 years, but he never had the chance to compete in the Best Ranger competition. Dunmyer said he enjoys watching the Rangers compete and he lives through them.
“Never had the opportunity to, but being the Commander I live by carelessly through all these young guys. I’ve been a Ranger over 20 years now, so getting to see some of these young guys go through this and do what I would have loved to do. Now, I get to be the Commander and facilitate, it is more gratifying.”
News 3 asked the Colonel if he were to compete does he believe he would win. Dunmyer laughed and said he would finish strong.
After the three day competition is completed a winner must be determined. Each competition starts with a number of points that a team can earn depending on where they finish in each event. At the end of the day each event is calculated and after day two the competition goes from 51 teams to 28 teams and that will carry the competition until the last two teams are standing. Scores from the last two teams will be calculated and a winner will be determined.
The winners will attend an award ceremony on Apr 19 and be given various gifts and recognition. Dunmyer said this is an exhilarating experience.
“It’s exhilarating, being the Commander one it’s awesome because I get to be around guys and gals like this, with that mental sharpness, that physical toughness every day. So I get to see it on a daily basis, I get to watch ranger students enter the course on day 1 and finish on day 61 and see a changed individual.”
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