Junior officers compete down range in battle of wits, skill
May 9, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan -- Platoon leaders from each of the troops and companies of Combined Task Force Wolverine competed April 26 in the H.J. McChrystal Competition here. The competition was a test of technical and tactical knowledge for lieutenants.
The McChrystal Leadership Award was created in 2005 by the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, to recognize outstanding leadership among company-grade leaders. It was named in honor of Lt. Col. Herbert J. McChrystal, the first commander of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion from 1941 to 1943. It's from here that 1-89 Cavalry traces its military lineage.
Traditionally, officers would nominate who they feel are worthy of receiving the award based on performance, and all of the officers within the unit would vote. Recently, however, the unit has changed the standard to a competition that tests junior leaders' skills.
These skills include communication, first aid, marksmanship, fitness and a planning phase, which includes briefing an operational plan and a written report. These skills were tested over the course of a day and rated on a scale from zero to 500.
Each troop or company in CTF Wolverine can submit only one platoon leader to compete in the event.
The competition was fierce, with final results separated by a narrow margin. The two winners scored so close, they both were awarded first place.
"It allowed me the opportunity to see what I really did know and what I needed to work on," said 1st Lt. Gerard Connolly, 1st Platoon, B Troop, 1-89 Cavalry. "I owed it to my platoon to compete and win, if possible, to not only instill trust in my Soldiers, but to prove they are good enough for any mission."
Connolly was one of two winners in the first competition, along with 1st Lt. Ryan Youngman, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment.
"I was really proud to have won," Youngman said. "It's good to know that I still possess the ability to hang with the best and brightest of each troop."
All of the competitors showed their skill and proved that they are leaders among Soldiers.
The competition showed the effectiveness of developing and training junior leaders. Future competitions will be open to all noncommissioned officers and junior leaders in CTF Wolverine.
(Sexton is with 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment.)