Iron Sergeant: Soldiers test their mettle in competition
September 12, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 12, 2013) -- Dozens of hardened warriors pushed themselves to their physical limits Sept. 9 when they competed to see who was made of the sternest stuff while going through the NCO Academy Iron Sergeant competition.
But Soldiers will have to wait to see who will claim the Iron Sergeant title until graduation day Sept. 27, when the winner of the completion will be revealed.
"The anticipation drives the students crazy," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Lee McCarty, NCOA advanced leaders course small group leader. "It gives them something more to look forward to."
Pushing their physical limits, male and female Soldiers competed to test their endurance in a total body workout. The events included push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, the NCOA obstacle course and a 1 ½- mile run in full Army Combat Uniform.
"This competition tests their overall strength," he said. "We do a silent count because we want the Soldiers to perform their best. We don't want them to go to a certain number and then stop. We want to keep them guessing."
Both male and female competitors are graded on the same scale, not against their physical readiness training scale.
"They compete against each other," McCarty said. "We have a different type of point system, so the competition is unique. We make sure each competitor is graded on the same standards, that way it is fair."
McCarty went on to say that the competition makes the Soldiers understand their physical endurance and their ability to negotiate through the obstacles.
"It is a confidence builder. We test them on a daily basis on the academics, but this is our way to test them physically besides a typical PRT test," said McCarty.
The challenge helps motivate the Soldiers through the rest of the course, he said, and though they cheer each other on, a little friendly competition can go far.
There will only be one winner, but the event served as a "great" break for Soldiers who participated, as well as those who observed.
Sgt. Jessica Jones competed and said that she wanted to participate because she wanted to try something new and different, and give the guys a run for their money.
"It was really hard," she said. "I wanted to be a team player and support my class. It feels pretty awesome that I made it to the top of the rope and some of the males couldn't, though."
Contenders had to complete the entire competition in their full uniform, a task that serves the greater Army mission, said McCarty.
"We have them compete in their uniform because, as a Soldier, you are going to be completing your mission in your uniform," he said. "We want them to be able to complete these harsh activities in the sand and in their boots because in the real world that's how they are going to have to do it. It is more challenging this way."