FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL) — For the morning, there wasn’t any pressure but that wouldn’t be for long. On Feb.7, Fort Moore soldiers who will take part in the Manuever Center of Excellence (MCoE) Infantry Week at Fort Moore showcased some of the skills that will come into play during competition.
Infantry Week includes the Best Mortar Competition (April 5-11), International Sniper Competition (April 5-11), 2024 Lacerda Cup All-Army Combatives Championship (April 8-14) and the Best Ranger Competition (April 12-15). This year marks the landmark 40th Best Ranger Competition and the weight is not lost on competitors.
“My Ranger buddies [are] the reason why I push deep and continue to push my limits because I know somebody’s relying on me,” Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Sailes said.
Sailes will be competing in the Best Ranger Competition for the second time this year. One of his current training partners is Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Whitney, although the two will compete against each other in April. It will be Whitney’s third time taking on the Best Ranger Competition.
According to Fort Moore representatives, Ranger-qualified soldiers are only allowed to compete in the challenge three times over the course of their careers.
Sailes and Whitney agreed it was their fellow Rangers and students in Fort Moore’s Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade who keep them motivated.
“You want to perform to your expectations,” Whitney said. He works in training for Best Ranger around instructing- and training with Ranger students, sometimes until 2 a.m.
Whitney continued, “Because I put in that much work, I want to have that work come to fruition when the competition rolls around.”
As Whitney and Sailes ran through the Malvesti obstacle course in a show of what competitors will tackle on the upcoming competition days, they remained in sync despite the difficulty of the event. Best Ranger hopefuls will also complete a six-hour ruck and other tests of skill and endurance.
Sgt. Hunter James will be a judge at the upcoming Lacerda Cup and is currently serving as a primary instructor at the U.S. Army Combatives Course at Fort Moore. He said Army combatives is more than just MMA-style fighting.
According to James, judges will watch as competitors go from trying to make use of a primary weapon, to a secondary weapon and then hand-to-hand force, if that fails. They will be looking for techniques used in the Modern Army Combatives Program, as well as ability to finish the fight.
“If they have to go hands-on, [we want them to] have the confidence and the tools to be able to go hands-on,” James said.
Staff Sgt. Luis DeLara demonstrated camouflage techniques that will be used in the Best Sniper Competition. He said the competition provides a unique opportunity to show case newer techniques and interact with international teams from countries like Poland.
“Competition drives the new – the new era of snipers that compete here,” DeLara said. He added, “You have international teams that show up and maybe do something we’ve never seen before … so that knowledge transfer is super important, especially for any new concept that’s out.”
A little over two months remain before the real competition begins, so preparation for the upcoming competitions is far from over. For more information about Infantry Week at Fort Moore, visit the MCoE website.