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Ranger Challenge team to compete at Sandhurst

A UNG cadet takes aim on the shooting range during the U.S. Army Cadet Command's recent Bold Leader Challenge.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) Ranger Challenge team will compete in the international Sandhurst Military Skills Competition after beating teams from the nation's junior and senior military colleges in the Bold Leader Challenge at Fort Knox, Kentucky. UNG also was awarded the weapons streamer for winning the shooting competition.

Ranger Challenge trophy
Members of UNG's Ranger Challenge team show off the trophies won in the
1st Brigade U.S. Cadet Command Bold Leader Challenge competition. Kneeling,
from left: John Mark Todd, Jean-Philippe Lionel Rossy, Jacob Earl Finn, and
Marlin Jouwal Ryans. Standing, from left: Moriah Catherine Edwards,  Clifford
Patrick Lockwood, Gentleman Beau-Diamond Baker, Marlena Lauren Schmidt,
Kyle Vilhelm Kampovsky, Ryan Brady Deits, and William Samuel Anderson.

As The Military College of Georgia and a state leadership institution, UNG is dedicated to educating leaders who can succeed in a global environment. U.S. Army Cadet Command's Bold Leader Challenge, which tests leadership, endurance, physical fitness and military skills, requires cadets to put that education and training into practice, said Col. Todd Wilson, active-duty professor of military science at UNG.

"Winning Bold Leader Challenge is a tremendous accomplishment that speaks highly of the leadership development program we have at the University of North Georgia," Wilson said. "To win, a team must be educated to think critically and work together as a team to solve problems. For example, I firmly believe that our cadets won the marksmanship portion of the competition because of their knowledge and their leadership skills, and not solely due to their ability to engage targets."

Cadet 1st Lt. Ryan Deits, the officer in charge of UNG's Ranger Challenge team, credited last year's team, which placed a close second to eventual Sandhurst runner-up Texas A&M.

"Probably the most important factor in our development and our success as a team was the foundation that was built by the previous leadership, Cole Gregory and Jonathan Strickland," said Deits, a senior from Suwanee, Georgia, who joined Ranger Challenge his freshman year. He also credited the influence of fellow team member and cadet John Todd, who served in the U.S. Navy prior to joining UNG's Corps of Cadets.

Deits said training organized by cadets Marlena Schmidt and William Anderson and support from UNG instructors Capt. Donovan Duke, Sgt. 1st Class Corey Remer and Sgt. 1st Class David M. Smith will remain important to the team's success going into Sandhurst.

"We're just going to take everything we have now, take it up a few levels and work as hard as we can. Sandhurst is a lot of the same events, they're just more complicated and more strenuous," Deits said. "These competitions test all of the skills we've learned at UNG, particularly the leadership skills, which can help you for the rest of your career in any branch you go into in the military."

Ranger Challenge bridge
UNG cadets work to build a one-rope bridge to get the team across
a stream during the Bold Leader Challenge competition.

Smith, who accompanies the team to competitions, said he is proud of UNG's success in competing against the "best of the best."

"Cadet Deits performed exceptionally well and demonstrated his leadership capabilities," he said. "These are the future leaders of tomorrow's Army, and it's exciting to see how well each school performed. It speaks volumes about the knowledge and leadership abilities of UNG's cadets and about how exceptional the Corps of Cadets is here at UNG."

The team has little time to savor victory, with several more months of training ahead before competing against teams of cadets from seven other ROTC units, the nation's service academies and military academies from around the world at the Sandhurst competition April 10-11 at West Point, New York. Since its inception in 1967, Sandhurst has been dominated by Great Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst; only one American team has won the competition since 1994 and an ROTC team has never won.

Though the challenges and the competitors are at a much higher level at Sandhurst, teamwork is still the key to success, Wilson said.

"To win at Sandhurst our team must continue to improve with their individual soldier skills and conditioning; however, the key to success, or winning, will be leadership and the ability to function as a cohesive team."

Members of UNG's Ranger Challenge team are William Samuel Anderson, Gentleman Beau-Diamond Baker, Ryan Brady Deits, Moriah Catherine Edwards, Jacob Earl Finn, Kyle Vilhelm Kampovsky, Clifford Patrick Lockwood, Jean-Philippe Lionel Rossy, Marlin Jouwal Ryans, Marlena Lauren Schmidt, and John Mark Todd.

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