Rangers Win the Army’s First ‘Best Squad’ Competition

October 10, 2022Jenna Biter

Five Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were named the Army's "Best Squad" at the Association of the US Army annual meeting, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. From left, Gen. Randy George, Spc. Jake Reichman, Spc. Coy Anderson, Spc. Nathan Wallen, Sgt. Jonathan Warren, Staff Sgt. Devon Simpson, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston. Photo by Noelle Wiehe/Coffee or Die Magazine.

WASHINGTON, DC — The results are in, and a team of Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, are the Army’s inaugural Best Squad. The five soldiers were recognized in a luncheon on Monday, Oct. 10, in Washington, DC.

Led by squad leader Staff Sgt. Devon Simpson and team leader Sgt. Jonathan Warren, the winning Rangers, stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, took home the "Best Squad" trophy for Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC.

The junior soldiers on the squad were Spc. Nathan Wallen, Spc. Jake Reichman, and Spc. Coy Anderson.

Rangers Win Best Squad

Soldiers of Squad 5, representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, train on land navigation during the Army’s first-ever Best Squad Competition on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Oct. 2, 2022. US Army photo by Spc. James B. Paxson.

"I am particularly proud of the squad I'm in," Simpson said. "They put in a lot of work and supported each other through a lot more than this, and it only added to our success here. I'm grateful for the relationships we have."

Unlike many of the other 11 squads they competed against, which pulled from different units throughout their commands, the Rangers on the winning squad work together every day in Georgia.

"It's a tenfold advantage," Simpson said. "A lot of our communication just came by body posture."

The five Rangers knew when to step in and take over a task for a struggling teammate, Simpson said, just by a slumped shoulder or change in gait. One would step up with a word of encouragement, Simpson said, such as, "Hey, bro, I got this. Get some water."

Starting on Sept. 29, the dozen squads competed in a weeklong, branchwide Best Squad competition, the first of its kind, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Events ranged from a physical fitness test, a 12-mile foot march, and shooting heavy weapons, like recoilless rifles, to taking an exam that tested basic Army knowledge and writing an essay.

Best Squad Night

Soldiers competing in the Army Best Squad Competition conduct a 12-mile ruck march on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Oct. 3, 2022. US Army photo by Spc. Cade Castillo.

“We were sweating the essays,” Simpson said.

After competing in more than a dozen events at Bragg, four squads moved on to the final stage of competition in Washington, DC: a board interview with top Army leaders. Along with the Rangers, the final four teams were a squad from the 101st Airborne representing Army Forces Command and teams from both the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

The board interview started with a uniform inspection, followed by 30 minutes of questions with a panel of about seven sergeants major from across the Army, including Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.

Wallen told Coffee or Die Magazine that he'd almost gone into the board with his belt on incorrectly, but his squad and team leader caught the error.

The team of five Rangers was announced as the winning squad at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting in Washington, DC, where Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the commander of USASOC, talked about the winning squad.

Best Squad Competition

Sixty soldiers participated in an Expert Physical Fitness Assessment, including a spring-drag-carry shuttle exercise on Pike Field, Fort Bragg, Sept. 29, 2022. Photo by Jenna Biter/Coffee or Die.

"This is what's good about America. This is what's good about the Army. This is what's good about soldiering," Braga said.

The best noncommissioned officer, or NCO, and best soldier of the year were also announced at the meeting, as well as the recipient of the cadre leadership award. Sgt. Garrett Paulson, representing Army Medical Command, took home the title of best NCO, and Spc. Samuel Alvarez, from Army Forces Command, was named best soldier.

During the competition, Alvarez clocked in with the best 12-mile foot march time at 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Sgt. Emily Lamontagne, a human intelligence collector with Army Cyber Command, took home the Cadre Leadership Award.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the order in which the soldiers were standing in a picture.

Read Next: DISPATCH: Russian Missiles Target Civilians in Central Kyiv

Jenna Biter
Jenna Biter

Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
military pilots cancer rates
Higher Cancer Rates Found in Military Pilots, Ground Crews

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft b...

March 20, 2023Associated Press
whiskey pour
Veterans Lead the Way Among America’s Growing Craft Distilleries

American veterans are taking the lessons they learned in the military and changing the craft distilling industry.

March 20, 2023Mac Caltrider
military suicide veteran suicide
Military Moves To Cut Suicides, But Defers Action on Guns

In a memo released Thursday, Austin called for the establishment of a suicide prevention working gro...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
us military drills japan-south korea
US, Partners Stage Military Drills Amid Japan-South Korea Talks

The Sea Dragon 23 exercises that started on Wednesday will culminate in more than 270 hours of in-fl...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
leo jenkins a word like god
‘A Word Like God’: New Book From Army Ranger Leo Jenkins

In his latest poetry collection, Ranger-turned-writer Leo Jenkins turns away from war to explore cosmic themes of faith, fatherhood, and art.

March 16, 2023Mac Caltrider
us drone
Pentagon Video Shows Russian Jet Dumping Fuel on US Drone

The Pentagon on Thursday released video of what it said was a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a ...

March 16, 2023Associated Press
10th Mountain Division
‘Climb to Glory’ — A History of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division

From the mountains of Italy to the mountains of Afghanistan, the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division built its legendary reputation by fighting in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.

March 16, 2023Matt Fratus
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved