Applications for engineers wanting to compete for the title of Best Sapper are now being accepted, and will close Feb. 29.
The 10th annual, three-day competition is set to take place on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the home of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment, from April 19-21.
The Best Sapper Competition is open to Soldiers and Marines serving in the engineer career field.
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The Best Sapper Competition began in 2005 as a means for engineers to demonstrate their skills.
Lt. Col. Scott Preston, 169th Engineer Battalion commander, was a company commander on Fort Leonard Wood when the competition began.
“The Sapper Leader Course fell underneath our command at that time,” Preston said. “The spirit of the competition is to find the best engineer team out there.”
Sappers will travel more than 50 miles in 50 hours while competing in a variety of events, testing them to their mental and physical breaking point, leading to this year’s slogan, “50 teams, 50 miles, 50 hours.”
“Sleep will be minimal. They will be moving almost the whole time, and they have to carry their own gear. It will be physically demanding. Then, when they get to the event stations, they will have to perform to standard, which can be challenging when you are tired,” Preston said.
Teams must consist of two participants, E-4 or above, and at least one person who is a graduate of the Sapper Leader Course.
“If there are teams out there that think they qualify, but they have never been to the school, they can submit an application to the regimental command sergeant major for review. He will decide if they are worthy of competing or not,” Preston said.
Competitors must furnish a letter of preparedness signed by the first lieutenant colonel in their chain of command and report to Fort Leonard Wood, April 17.
An overview of the competition allows the competitors to see the event breakdown for the three days, but Capt. Bryan Wittmeyer, Sapper Leader Course chief of training, said specifics will not be released.
“The competition’s details are not released prior to the event, so teams don’t know exactly what to expect, so I can’t get into a lot of specific changes to this year’s competition, but I can say that we have changed many of the individual events and added new events that have never been seen in any other Best Sapper Competition,” Wittmeyer said.
“We have given out a list of potential tasks, so they can practice now. When they are competing and worn out, executing the tasks should come natural,” Preston said.