By Col. Kip Korth
The 13th annual Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition is quickly approaching, with the event dates set from April 8 through 10 at Fort Leonard Wood.
The competition, which was renamed in 2018 in honor of the 50th Chief of Engineers, showcases the grit, expertise and strength of 50 teams of America’s finest combat engineer Soldiers from across our Army, as they travel 50 miles in 50 hours.
Spectators are encouraged to come out and observe the competition, cheer on the teams and gain an appreciation for what these dynamic Sapper teams accomplish in just three days.
Those familiar with the competition know events are kept close-hold to preserve integrity, however, the Sapper Training Company has released the general schedule to make it easier for spectators to plan ahead.
Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition key events include:
April 7 – Opening Ceremony
The Best Sapper Competition Opening Ceremony takes place at noon April 7 at TA-160. Spectators will have an opportunity to hear the U.S. Army Engineer School commandant’s message to participants, meet the teams and listen in on the ground rules that teams, coaches and sponsors must follow.
Team photos will be taken after the ceremony and posted to the Best Sapper Competition Facebook page at facebook.com/BestSapper.
April 8 – Day 1
Phase I of the competition starts at 10 a.m. April 8, followed by Phase II at 1 p.m., and Phase III at 7 p.m.
April 9 – Day 2
Phase IV starts at 6 a.m. April 9.
April 10 – Day 3
Phase V starts at 1 a.m., with the X-mile scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The X-mile will conclude on Gammon Field.
April 11 – Awards Ceremony
The Best Sapper Competition Awards Ceremony is planned for 7:30 a.m. April 11 on Gammon Field, where final team standings will be announced.
Spectator packets will be published daily at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/units-tenants/USAES/Sapper/BSC, with the locations and times of spectator-friendly events. Driving directions and parking areas will be included in the packet information.
The Sapper Training Company is going all out to ensure competitors are challenged at this year’s event, which is expected to be more equitable for all teams. In previous competitions, teams who did very well in the first few events were in the driver’s seat; however, this year’s schedule gives every team a fighting chance to claim victory.
The winning team will still have to cross the finish line first, but separations between teams will be based on performance, and not any other constraint.
To compete in the Best Sapper Competition represents a matter of pride for competitors and their units. To finish is a great accomplishment, and so it goes without saying that to win is a very special experience only a few will ever enjoy. Being named the “2019 Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition Winner” carries a lot of weight for units and even installations that can claim they are home to the team who earned the right to the title.
As a result of the efforts of the Sapper Training Company and those involved in the planning and the execution of this event, to include the MSCoE, U.S. Army Garrison, the Army Engineer Association and the Sapper Association, this year’s event promises to be something special.
For more information, visit the Best Sapper web page at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/units-tenants/USAES/Sapper/BSC.
(Editor’s note: Korth is the 1st Engineer Brigade commander.)