The U.S. Army is comprised of more than a million active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers with a broad range of specialties. But only a selective few can call themselves Army Rangers, and even fewer can say they are the best.
First Army, supported by Division West, conducted training at Fort Hood in December to select a team to represent the command at the upcoming 30th annual Best Ranger Competition.
“We’re in the validation phase to select the best soldier-athlete to represent First Army in next year’s Best Ranger Competition,” said First Army’s Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews.
Over a two-day period, Capt. Andrew Sidwell and Capt. Grant Flynn, both with the 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, completed a variety of demanding tasks geared toward challenging them and seeing if they possessed the skills to proceed to the next level of competition.
“What we were looking for is who had the ability to get here and get it done and make it all the way to the end state,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William Simpson, 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment’s highest ranking noncomissioned officer and event coordinator. “These two guys possess the competence, capability and drive, to not only get here but to do everything well.”
The soldiers were required to perform a buddy run, foot march, obstacle course, weapons qualification, combatives, tower rappels and challenges, a helocast, canoeing and a ruck march.
“We came up with this process to put them through intense activities to see if they had what it takes to move them further down the path,” Simpson said. “It was 48 hours of knee-busting and head-knocking events.”
As challenging as these tasks were, the two Division West soldiers rose to
“Looking at what I’ve seen up to this point, we definitely have the right two guys that are going to make a difference at this competition for us,” Andrews said.
Division West’s three local brigades — the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation brigades — facilitated the validation by preparing, coordinating and monitoring each training event.
“It’s been a pretty arduous process,” Simpson said.
Competitors for Best Ranger must be both Ranger and airborne qualified. They must also go through a train-up process, including the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, combat water survival testing and a 12-mile foot march.
“You would be hard-pressed to find two better guys to perform as well as they did,” Simpson said.
Sidwell and Flynn hit the ground running as a team to push each other from start to finish.
“Our strategy was to bring no evil to the table, playing off each other’s strengths and recognizing our weaknesses,” Sidwell said.
It was obvious from their tempo and motivation throughout the validation training that the two officers were in sync with each other.
“When I moved here to Fort Hood, (Sidwell) was my sponsor, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Flynn said. “We recognized that synergy immediately and knew that it would be irreplaceable in the competition. Personally, I’m here to be what my team needs me to be and in my darkest hour, I know and trust full-well, that he would do the same for me.”
There are a lot of Rangers out there but not all of them can go all the way to the Best Ranger Competition and show how strong they are, Simpson said. “Rangers lead the way.”