QUANTICO, Va. --
U.S. Marine Corps infantry rifle squads from across all four divisions participated in the Corps’ service-wide Rifle Squad Competition hosted by Training Command on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, April 23-27, 2023.
The ‘super squad’ style competition took the best squads from competitions at each of the four Marine divisions and saw them face off against each other head-to-head. To determine who was deserving of the title of 'Most Proficient Rifle Squad in the Marine Corps,' each squad was taken through a series of events designed to test their operational proficiency in a realistic training environment while challenging their physical and mental resilience.
This years’ competition represented the first time in nearly 30 years that Marine rifle squads from each division faced off at the service level in this way.
"A force-wide competition like this hasn't happened in three decades so it's been an honor to be a part of bringing it back." Capt. Connor Hankin, future operations officer at The Basic School
“Putting this together has been a total team effort and the Marines who participated showed up motivated to compete,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Connor Hankin, future operations officer at The Basic School, who was one of the lead planners for the event. "A force-wide competition like this hasn't happened in three decades so it's been an honor to be a part of bringing it back."
The four squads were composed of Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division; 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division; and 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.
Over the 72-hour competition period, the Marines faced situations and challenges familiar to every Marine infantry squad, ultimately testing their offensive and defensive tactics, patrolling, combat marksmanship, and physical fitness.
“For this particular competition, we wanted to focus on measuring the overall lethality of each squad,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Harold Rivera, current operations chief at The Basic School, who also was part of the team that planned the competition. “They’ve already gone through the gauntlet at the division level, so coming up here, we wanted to make sure we tested them very, very thoroughly to measure the lethality of how they employed themselves under different scenarios despite the physical challenges.”
Events included an air insert followed by squad attacks on an urban training facility, day and night attacks with live fire while patrolling, simulated casualty evacuations, and infantry marksmanship assessments. The culminating event was a 6-mile movement that took the Marines through the same challenging Quantico terrain that builds resilience into every Marine officer that goes through The Basic School.
In the end, the title of most proficient rifle squad in the Marine Corps for 2023 was given to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
Both the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, attended the awards ceremony that followed the competition to personally congratulate each squad and hand out awards to the winners.
“The competition you’ve gone through the last several days proves you are the best infantrymen that we have in our Corps today,” said Black. “Our entire Marine Corps will find itself in a conflict somewhere at some point in time. Who's gonna lead our Marines in that environment? It's you.”