A team of 11 cadets from the University of Virginia’s Army ROTC program placed fifth among 20 schools in the 4th Brigade Ranger Challenge, held Oct. 16-19 at Fort Pickett near Blackstone.
The exercise was intended to enhance leadership skills, demonstrate military excellence and professional development, and to improve the cadets’ teamwork and physical, mental and emotional toughness.
“The important take-away message for the cadets is the leadership experience they had,” Army Lt. Col. Mark Houston, commander of the Cavalier Battalion, said. “Their ability to come together as a team and overcome these challenges is what really stands out for our cadets.”
The military students had to plan, rehearse, execute and assess assigned tasks under realistic conditions, using critical thinking and decision-making skills but without sacrificing safety.
The team’s captain, Command Sgt. Maj. of the Cavalier Battalion Joshua Underwood, an American government major, said he was proud of his team’s efforts.
“Each day of competition, every team member committed themselves wholeheartedly to the tasks ahead, illustrating the uncommon leadership and determination instilled at U.Va. and Army ROTC,” Underwood said.
Among the challenges the cadets faced: dismantling and reassembling weapons, constructing and navigating a one-rope bridge, completing an obstacle course, participating in a marksmanship competition, reconnoitering an enemy position and achieving an objective using a boat.
“Even with many setbacks, the team thrived in the mental, physical and emotional challenges that the competition provided,” Underwood said. “The Army believes that leaders and everyday soldiers should be able to ‘thrive in chaos.’ The Ranger Challenge Team proved over the course of the competition that they were not only capable of fighting in the midst of chaos, but that they excelled in it.”