Stranded on one side of the gap, the team’s goal was to get all nine cadets across the deep ravine safely. The problem: they could only use rope. “You have five minutes to tie your harness and pass inspection,” Cadet James Toliver shouted to the team.
“HOOAH!” the cadets yelled in response.
Each cadet had a length of rope to fashion into a climbing harness capable of holding their own body weight, a full rucksack and an M-16.
“On your mark, get set, go,” Toliver yelled, simultaneously pressing his stopwatch.
With remarkable precision, the cadets all finished their harnesses in less than two minutes. The ravine-spanning rope bridge was then rigged even quicker. All of the cadets were boosted up to the rope, clipped in, and then shoved down the line headfirst and upside-down.
They pulled themselves across the gulch hand over hand with their feet locked over the rope as a safety measure. The whole exercise was executed with muscle memory similar to that of a professional athlete.
The ROTC Ranger Club was practicing for the Bold Warrior Challenge, an upcoming competition taking place Saturday, Oct. 15 in Fort Knox, Ky. The drills at the competition will include combat first aid, hand grenade throwing, navigation and orienteering, obstacle courses, small boat movement, weapons assembly, commanders challenge, and the well-practiced rope bridge.
Tech’s ROTC Ranger Club will be among 52 other nationally and internationally recognized teams during the competition. Throughout the duration of the BWC, the cadets will be leading themselves from event to event in an elapsed-time format.
“It puts a lot on their leadership and how well they can handle things,” Master Sergeant Jeff Mallo said. “I’m not even allowed to talk to them until it’s all over.”
For the challenge, a team of nine cadets will compete in various events.
“Each event is scored and timed, as well as how long it takes the team to finish the whole competition,” Mallo said. “It usually starts at [6:00 a.m.] and finishes around [2:00 p.m.]. After the events, there will be an awards ceremony.”
According to Mallo, the team must be comprised of nine cadets. Each team must have one or more female cadets, along with an individual from each rank in the ROTC except MS1s, who are mainly freshmen and first-time recruits. The ranking system starts with MS1s, who are freshmen, and progresses up to MS4s, who are seniors. The MS4s are in charge of the cadets’ training labs as well as physical training or PT.
Practice days will take place until the competition.
“During the BWC,” Mallo said, “it will really, truly be on the cadets themselves.