Our University of Delaware Army ROTC Program has an intercollegiate Ranger Challenge Team that competes annually against approximately 38 other teams from this region of the country in a military skills competition, comprised of individual and team events. Of the 165 cadets that constitute UDel’s program, 10 cadets were selected to compete after two months of rigorous training in the fall of 2018.
The 4th Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition was held in mid-October, and The University of Delaware placed 1st overall. Historically, the winning teams from the 8 regional competitions are invited annually to The United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, NY to compete in the International Sandhurst Competition. This year, for the 12-13 April competition, the first and second place ROTC Ranger Challenge Teams were invited to compete, increasing the field to 16 total ROTC teams.
Sandhurst is the world’s premier international academy, military skills competition that inspires excellence through rigorous physical and mental challenges that reflect the tempo, uncertainty and tasks of combat operations. The competition strengthens relationships with our allies and partners to foster multi-national cohesion and interoperability and showcases the tenacity and grit of future leaders of the Armed Forces across the world.
The quality of the competition is maintained with a 50-team threshold filled with the best competitors from USMA regimental teams, Cadet Command’s Ranger Challenge program, international partner academies, and other service academies from The Navy, Air Force, & Coast Guard. This year’s competition was a two-day course with 13 day- and night-events that were individual-, squad-skill-mastery-, and leader-focused.
Many of the U.S. Service Academies draw upon a pool of thousands of students and the international teams can draw upon cadets nationwide from their particular countries. Purely ROTC teams usually draw from less than 150 cadets from their respective programs, so to be invited to compete is a great honor. Of the teams that are not large academies or military schools, the top of the 16 ROTC teams in attendance placed 16th overall. The University of Delaware placed 45th overall, beating out several teams that had previously attended and were familiar with the competition.
Our UDel team had one of the best times on the Zodiac raft event, surprising the cadre that were hosting that event with their choreographed rowing. They came in 3rd place overall for the Call-For-Fire artillery event, close behind two teams that tied for first. And from the thousands of young leaders, selected from around the globe to compete in this event, our Team Captain, Cadet Claudia Bacon, placed 2nd overall for The Tom Surdyke Award for Best Squad Leader. Considering her legion of formidable competition, this was a remarkably monumental achievement.
Having endured 36 hours of a grueling 30-mile competition against the best future military leaders in the world, we are very proud The University of Delaware Army ROTC Team’s performance on the international stage.