The team of Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from the University of North Dakota finished sixth overall at this year’s prestigious Sandhurst Military Skills Competition (SANCOM) held recently at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Army ROTC programs collectively posted their strongest finish ever in the annual international test of military skills that wrapped up in late April, with three schools, including UND, ranking in the top 10.
The Sandhurst Competition is an intense event that challenges participants to work together and use their ingenuity, leadership and physical drive to overcome obstacles involving land navigation, first-aid, combat fitness and decision-making.
In addition to the University of North Dakota’s sixth place finish, Penn State University came in second overall and Brigham Young University captured seventh.
The team from UND competed last year, and finished 37th overall, so this year’s showing was a huge improvement and a sign of great success for UND Army cadets.
Prior to Saturday’s awards ceremony, Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, U.S. Army Cadet Command’s senior officer at Ft. Knox, Ky., spent nearly an hour with the 72 cadets from all eight Army ROTC teams that competed, as well as with their cadre and family members who made the trip.
Smith said there efforts were historic.
“You should be proud of all you’ve done,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you came in first. You’ll leave here a better person and have learned a lot about yourselves and your teammates and become a better cadet and a better officer.”
After watching ROTC teams compete at Sandhurst shortly after he took command last year, Smith initiated changes to brigade Ranger Challenge competitions that more closely resembled the Sandhurst exercises.
“Not because I wanted you to win this event,” Smith said. “I want you to be a better critical thinker. I want you to be more resilient and better physically. My objective with this event and Ranger Challenges are to create an environment that enables you to excel.”
The Sandhurst competition began in 1967 with the presentation of a sword by the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to use as the prize in a competition that promotes military-wide excellence.
The 2013 competition included 58 teams representing the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Military Academy Prep School, Army ROTC, the companies from West Point and international military academy teams from Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, South Korea, China, Chile, Australia, Germany and Qatar.