• U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Lewis, center, the senior enlisted advisor to the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, addresses graders and competitors at the start of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Lewis, center, the senior enlisted advisor to the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, addresses graders and competitors at the start of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment complete a written history test during the mystery event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The test consisted of general knowledge and unit history questions. The Top Tomahawk competition evaluated the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment complete a written history test during the mystery event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013...

  • A U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment completes chest press exercises during the physical fitness round of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    A U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment completes chest press exercises during the physical fitness round of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March...

  • From right, a U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment completes box jumps while participating in the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    From right, a U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment completes box jumps while participating in the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment run to their next event during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment run to their next event during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested...

  • U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Brew, left, and Spc Kirk Calabrese, both with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, drag a litter packed with sandbags simulating a casualty during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Brew, left, and Spc Kirk Calabrese, both with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, drag a litter packed with sandbags simulating a casualty during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin...

  • A U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment fires an M4 carbine during the stress shoot event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    A U.S. Soldier with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment fires an M4 carbine during the stress shoot event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment are silhouetted against the sun as they exercise before testing marksmanship skills during the Top Tomahawk competition's stress shoot event at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment are silhouetted against the sun as they exercise before testing marksmanship skills during the Top Tomahawk competition's stress shoot event at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment complete a 300-meter run before firing weapons during the Top Tomahawk competition's stress shoot event at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment complete a 300-meter run before firing weapons during the Top Tomahawk competition's stress shoot event at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment program a radio during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment program a radio during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers'...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment change a tire on a Stryker armored vehicle during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment change a tire on a Stryker armored vehicle during the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2013. The...

  • U.S. Army Spc. Kirk Calabrese with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment throws a tomahawk during the final event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2013. The competition tested the Soldiers' physical endurance, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann/Released)

    Tomahawks compete for top spot

    U.S. Army Spc. Kirk Calabrese with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment throws a tomahawk during the final event of the Top Tomahawk competition at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2013...

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - Soldiers with Combined Task Force 2-23 (2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment) contended in the Top Tomahawk competition that began March 29 here.

The competition vetted three-man teams against each other to test their physical stamina, marksmanship skills, and technical and tactical proficiency.

"[The competition] was geared toward the environment we deal with as infantry," said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Lewis. "It [included] tasks the soldiers could benefit from and at the same time tested their physical, technical and tactical skills."

To simulate a battlefield environment the contestants were in "full battle-rattle," or full combat gear with weapons and ammunition that weighs approximately 65 pounds.

The tasks were also set up to simulate combat and entailed changing a 200-pound Stryker armored vehicle tire, bore-sighting a .50-caliber remote weapons system, loading radio frequencies and map overlays into the Stryker computer system, evaluating and safely moving casualties, and target shooting under stressful conditions.

"The pace was frenetic and a whole lot of stress from being physically tired, mentally drained," said Pfc. Brian J. Ure, from Long Beach, Calif. "I thought the tasks were very appropriate for our job."

It was physically, mentally and technically challenging, said Sgt. David J. Reilly, a team leader from Redding, Calif.

In spite of all the challenges the competition was meant to instill teamwork and boost morale.

"It was to kind of breakup the monotony of the deployment," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Randolph, the battalion operations noncommissioned officer. "Its an esprit de corps thing."

"We wanted to boost morale now that we are halfway through the deployment," said Lewis.

After completing the physical and technical activities the teams faced a mystery event that they were surprised to discover was a written history exam consisting of general knowledge and unit history questions.

"It was the total soldier concept," said Lewis. "We wanted the soldiers to open their minds and know that what you expect is not always the case."

The total soldier concept continued on day two with a tomahawk throw and a board interview.

The interview questions were intentionally different from typical board questions and incorporated sports, U.S. presidents and military history, allowing the younger soldiers to participate without having the knowledge and experience expected of the team leaders and also taught the team leaders to think outside of the box, said Lewis.

The teams will have to wait until a later date to find out the winners because the task force is planning a large awards ceremony to coincide with other awards but the intent of the event, team building in good-natured competition, was met.

"It's good for bragging rights," said Reilly. "To keep up to date on who the best team in the battalion is."

Page last updated Tue April 2nd, 2013 at 00:00