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Cadets from Fort Valley State University used Fort Benning as their final training site Jan. 17-18 as they prepared for the 2014 Ranger Challenge competition.
For the Ranger Challenge, a team of nine cadets competed against other 52 colleges throughout the southeast region Jan. 24-25 at Camp Blanding, Fla. The two-day event covered 18 miles with events including rifle marksmanship, hand grenade assault, land navigation, a foot march, a patrol boat race, an obstacle course, a river crossing and a commanders challenge. The cadets practiced several of the events at the Red Diamond Navigation Site on Harmony Church.
Capt. Leslie Stanfield, a military science instructor at Fort Valley State, said the cadets were eager to compete this year.
Theyre excited, theyve been training for this for a while and theyre definitely ready to go do it, Stanfield said.
Lt. Col. Joel Davis, commander of the Wildcat Battalion at Fort Valley State, said cadets go through a six-week training process to tryout for the challenge. Those who score the highest become part of the final Ranger Challenge team.
I think the cadets are doing fairly well, Davis said. I still see them motivated and I see some of the techniques theyve learned during the training period and they are executing them. Fort Benning has been tremendous in allowing us to come out and train.
Cadet Chervonda Blake, a junior at Fort Valley State, said although the training is intense, seeing improvements in speed, teamwork and motivation was rewarding.
Our teamwork is awesome because we all know our places and what were supposed to do and we communicate in a way where everything flows perfectly fine, she said. Im expecting sweat, tired legs and pain but at the end Im expecting victory in knowing that we got through it.
Physical and mental strengths were vital elements of the training as cadets were challenged to take initiative in leadership roles during combat exercises.
We look for leadership, reaction and critical thinking in any situation, Davis said. We all can get caught into routine but when it comes to various variables, its about how they react and respond to that. I think they are reacting and thinking well according to the knowledge base that they have.
Cadet Tremon Shuler, a junior at Fort Valley State, said Fort Benning was an ideal location for the team to improve their skills before the competition.
We do certain drills back home such as land navigation, but it doesnt compare to the level that is here, Shuler said. Im very confident and my team is just as confident and I hope that will show during the competition.