NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




NMSU Army ROTC preparing for grueling competition

The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at New Mexico State University is currently training for the 25th-annual Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition, which is being held on the NMSU campus for the first time.


People running and wearing Army shirts
The Army ROTC program held a silent run to commemorate the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. The run was part of the program's training for the Ranger Competition to be held at New Mexico State University in October. (Courtesy photo)

The Ranger Competition pits the Army ROTC programs of NMSU, the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas – El Paso, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona, and Texas Tech against each other.

“The teams of 11 cadets get tested on problem-solving and military skills,” said Lt. Col. Blanca Reyes, professor of military science at NMSU.

The Ranger Competition is held in three successive levels, the first of which, taking place at NMSU, is called the taskforce level. Whichever school wins at this level will then compete at the brigade level in San Antonio, Texas. The winner will then compete in a final level called the Sandhurst Competition hosted at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

“The first level is a three-day competition from Oct. 20 to the 22,” Reyes said.

On the first day, a reception ceremony will be held informing the seven schools’ teams of the rules of engagement and then the first challenge of the competition will be held: the Army physical fitness test.

“The cadets will get two minutes to do as many push-ups as they can, then two minutes to do as many sit-ups as they can, and then they’ll have to run two miles,” Reyes said.

After a brief rest, the next challenge of the first day will be land navigation.

“We give them a map with some points and a compass and they have to find the points,” Reyes said.

From here the rest of the competition will be self-guided. Throughout campus, nine other stations will be set up. At each of these stations, a task must be performed and judged. The teams must complete each event but do so in whatever sequence each team’s leader decides is best.

At one such station, held at the corner of Triviz and Arrowhead Drive, the teams will blindly draw cards instructing them which military-grade weapon they must disassemble, then reassemble and check for proper functioning.

At another station, held to the east of Aggie Memorial Stadium, the cadets will be presented with a medical mannequin in some state of injury. The cadets will have to inspect the injuries on the dummy and treat them properly.

In a lot off of Wells Street, a station will have a military vehicle that may or may not be rigged with a (fake) improvised explosive device.

“The cadets will check to see if there is an IED and either properly mark it or clear it,” Reyes said.

One of the goals of the competition is to keep the cadets awake throughout the three-day event, for which they have been training since the summer.

“Our cadets come in between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning and start training,” Reyes said. “It’s a balancing act for them: They have to maintain their grades and make sure they’re prepared for this event.”

The 11 cadets in each team are the highest performing, both academically and in their respective brigades, Reyes said.

Reyes also serves as the senior mentor of Las Cruces High School’s Army ROTC program. The students in this program will attend the Ranger Competition to assist at each of the stations.

Former NMSU ROTC alumni and the Bataan Foundation will attend the competition and Reyes said she encourages the cadets’ families and the general public to attend any of the events to provide encouragement.

“Hopefully with their cowbells,” she said.