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Army Rangers among best elite forces

ARMY Rangers out-shot, out-ran and out-maneuvered dozens of special forces teams from around the world in a gruelling contest.

The elite Irish soldiers picked up a bronze medal in the Combat Team Conference this week which tests the skills of special police and military units. Forty-one teams from 22 countries had battled it out.

Austria's COBRA police team came first, with Italy's NOCS police second and the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) third. The Irish came in ahead of such highly skilled units as the Royal Dutch Marines, the Special Task Force from South Africa, Germany's GSG9, Sweden's Special Police Unit and GOE from Portugal.

The British SAS and US special forces did not take part. They only enter competitions where they have a high chance of winning.

The competition, held every four years, was organised by Germany's GSG9 at their base near Bonn.

Rangers had to deal with hostage situations, evade attack dogs, swim long distances in the Rhine and hit targets with their H&K MP5 sub-machine guns and 9mm SiG pistols.

The first event involved a 2.5km run down a steep incline. "At the end of the run, the runner picked up his team of four who were roped together and they made their way back up the hill," said the Ranger team manager. "The team were stopped during the first 1km to identify five 'tangos' (hostage takers) from mug sheets that had been shown previously." Getting it wrong meant having to carry a 20kg sandbag for the rest of the run.

"The events tested the skills that a specialist unit would need in an actual intervention, including shooting, climbing, driving, swimming, leadership and making decisions under pressure," he said.

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