VCU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in the Department of Military Science has been teaching leadership and perseverance to students for decades. Recently their skills were put to the test through participating in the Cadet Ranger Challenge and Field Training Exercises (FTX).
Each year, teams from all over the country compete in the Ranger Challenge, which includes a three mile run, carrying a 35 to 40 pound rucksack for 15 to 19 miles, and an obstacle course. “Ranger Challenge is an event that’s put on by the brigade,” said Master Sergeant Tyler Chubb. VCU is within the fourth brigade that includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. “There’s 46 teams and we all go down to Fort Pickett and compete in seventeen events.” The event is designed to challenge Cadets’ mental and physical toughness and to develop leadership while fostering teamwork and esprit-de-corps.
VCU placed 9th out of 46 teams this year, continuing their record of placing in the top 10 in previous competitions.
“You can win it as a whole and place as a whole,” said Ranger Challenge Captain Annie Barnes. “You can win separate events as well.”
Every year, the team picks a new captain that was on the team in the prior year. “[Barnes] was on the team last year, and then she exuded the leadership that we wanted so we picked her to be a captain for this year’s team,” said Chubb.
Barnes’ role as Ranger Challenge Captain allows her to come up with the training plans and create a workup to the competition.
“She’ll basically say, “This is what we’re going to do this week. This is the physical training that we’re doing. This is what we’re going to do after physical training. This is what we’re going to do the next day, the next day, the next day.” So she’s the scheduler and the resources,” said Chubb. “Whatever she needs, she comes to me. Then we work with National Guard units around here to get it or Fort Lee down there to get equipment for her to train them.”
Barnes and Chubb both find that the best part about the challenge is watching their team push their limits.
“For me, it’s just to watch them because it’s challenging, so it’s not meant for the faint of heart,” said Chubb. “It’s easy to quit. It’s good to seem them finish it; staying as a team and not quit on each other and help each other out the whole time.”
“I would have to say the same thing because you work with these people for about a month and a half,” said Barnes. “It’s the whole embrace the suck where you just have to grit your teeth and keep going kind of thing. You’re waking up early. You’re tired. You’ve been doing this then finally the competition happens, so I’m just excited for it.”
Chubb encourages individuals who are interested in the Cadet Ranger Challenge to test it out without the commitment.
“The challenge is physically and mentally demanding, so I would say that if anybody’s willing to give it a shot then come to ROTC first,” said Chubb. “We offer classes and there’s no commitment whatsoever because we have freshman that are not contracted. So it’s a good opportunity to try it out.”
“It demands that you have a higher caliber of person on the team,” said Barnes. “It kind of gives you an edge because you are with this team, you’re learning how to work within a team, you’re learning all these things that then will later be applied as you go on. And you’ll hear it again and again. Without the program people will be like, “Wait, how do you know that?” I’ll go, “Because of Ranger Challenge.” It happens all the time. So that is what I’ve really loved about it.”
Photo Credit: University of Richmond ROTC Facebook page/CDT Perry.
Story by Jess Wetzler.