Soldiers compete in ranger competition

By Rose Schneider

First lieutenants Christopher Siok and Samuel Gulland, both stationed at Fort Riley, ranked in the top 15 in a recent 60-hour Best Ranger Competition held at Fort Benning, Ga.

“We had two main goals; the first was to finish the competition and the second was to finish in the top 15 teams,” Siok said. “We understood that physically it would be very difficult and we were prepared for that.”

The team finished in 13th place among 50 teams competing in this year’s challenge.

The duo trained for six to eight hours per day for three weeks at an alternative course in Georgia prior to the Fort Benning competition while “other teams had the opportunity to train for months.”

This was Siok’s second year competing and Gulland’s first.

“My first year we took 26th place out of 50 and I was just pleased to have finished,” Siok said. “You give it your all the first day to make the initial cut.”

The cut, which comes after roughly the first 20- to 24-hours, eliminates about half of the 50 teams.

“Our approach was to take it one event at a time and to not think about the 57 hours ahead of us,” Gulland said.

The challenge includes a wide variety of physically and emotionally demanding tasks including climbing walls exceeding 65 feet using rope tying skills, shooting, map reading, foot marches, parachuting out of helicopters, and written tests on demolition, Ranger history and military vehicle recognition.

“There were some teams with 10 to 12 years of practice; we were good but there is no substitute for that kind of experience,” Gulland said.

Siok and Gulland attended Ranger school together, both graduating in September 2011. They were also deployed to Afghanistan together in the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

“We’re very good friends,” Siok said. “There is a reason it isn’t an individual competition…with two people you really have the opportunity to draw on someone else when you’re tired, weak and struggling and the next day the roles can be reversed and you’re there for partner.”

Both men enjoyed the competition, but they are undecided about whether they would do it again.

“In the competition, you’re up against the best of the best individual soldiers and Ranger buddy teams,” Siok said. “It was a great honor to go down there and represent Fort Riley.”

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