• CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Using camouflage face paint to blend in with the surrounding vegetation, a Soldier with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, pulls security during the Excellence in Cavalry event at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. Soldiers had to move through the woods quietly to maintain noise discipline.

    Blending in with his surroundings

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Using camouflage face paint to blend in with the surrounding vegetation, a Soldier with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, pulls security during the Excellence in Cavalry event at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. Soldiers had to...

  • CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- A Soldier with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, fires a M4 rifle during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. The three-day event had Soldiers running up and down steep hills, calling for simulated artillery fire and using camouflage face paint to blend into the surrounding vegetation to test their proficiency on cavalry scout skills.

    Engaging targets

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- A Soldier with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, fires a M4 rifle during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. The three-day event had Soldiers running up and down steep hills, calling for...

  • CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Sgt. Ramiro Ortiz, a cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, performs a functions check on a .50-caliber machine gun during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 10. On the first day, Soldiers completed a timed land navigation course and performed basic maintenance and function checks of multiple crew-served weapons.

    Performing a functions check on the M2 Machine Gun

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Sgt. Ramiro Ortiz, a cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, performs a functions check on a .50-caliber machine gun during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 10. On the first day...

  • CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Cpl. Lawrence Wheeler, a cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and native of Palm Coast, Fla., checks a land navigation point to see if his azimuth is correct during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 10. To receive a "go" in the event, Soldiers had to find eight of ten points during a timed land navigation course.

    Checking his aziumuth

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Cpl. Lawrence Wheeler, a cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and native of Palm Coast, Fla., checks a land navigation point to see if his azimuth is correct during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at...

  • CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Sgt. 1st Class Romer Sepulveda, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and a grader for the Excellence in Cavalry event, reads off the time for Soldiers at a turn around point during a four-mile run at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. The Soldiers started the second day with a four-mile run, which they had to finish in less than 36 minutes.

    Timing the 4-mile run

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Sgt. 1st Class Romer Sepulveda, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and a grader for the Excellence in Cavalry event, reads off the time for Soldiers at a turn around point during a four-mile run at...

  • CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Soldiers with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, take a knee before tactically crossing an opening during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. Soldiers had to navigate through the woods as quietly as they could and establish a listening and observation post.

    Taking a knee for security

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Soldiers with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, take a knee before tactically crossing an opening during the Excellence in Cavalry competition at Camp Bondsteel, June 11. Soldiers had to navigate through the woods as...

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (June 12, 2014) -- Noise was their enemy and silence was their ally as Soldiers tested during the Excellence in Cavalry competition held at Camp Bondsteel, which tested them on their knowledge of their cavalry occupational specialty, June 10-12.

The three-day event had Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, running steep hills, calling for simulated artillery fire, and using camouflage to blend into the surrounding vegetation, as they tested their proficiency in cavalry scout skills.

"[The purpose is] to evaluate their [basic] skill level reconnaissance tasks and to make sure they have maintained those skills," said 1st Sgt. Lanny McLaughlin, senior enlisted advisor for 2-38 Cav. Regt.'s Alpha Troop. "It also measures their physical fitness, shooting capabilities and their basic cavalry knowledge."

On the first day, Soldiers from the Phantom Recon squadron took an Army Physical Fitness Test and had to achieve the 90th percentile in each event to qualify for the EIC. They also completed a timed land navigation course and performed basic maintenance and function checks of multiple crew-served weapons.

"They were tested on the .50-Caliber and 240B machine guns, M4 rifle, 40mm grenade launcher and the long-range advanced scout surveillance system," said McLaughlin, a Nogales, Ariz. native.

The Soldiers started the second day with a four-mile run, which they had to finish in less than 36 minutes. They also completed dismounted movement techniques, qualified at a M4 rifle range, established a helicopter landing zone and conducted a MEDEVAC.

For the final day of the event, Soldiers threw on a 35-pound ruck for a 12-mile march, which required completion in less than three hours. That was followed by exercises in calling for simulated artillery fire, tactical vehicle identification, establishing a listening/observation post and an EIC knowledge board.

Spc. Douglas Teed, a 2-38 Cavalry scout and a competition participant, said every event tested his knowledge and physical skills, but he was able to push through each obstacle.

"Physically it's been challenging, and when you are physically challenged you're a little tired, so it makes it mentally challenging as well," said Teed.

The Owego, N.Y. native added the entire event was quite the experience, and said there was only one goal on his mind throughout the event.

"It's a honor to do it and to be chosen to do it. It's great training and it's good to get back to the roots of a scout," said Teed. "The goal is to always succeed, that's what we are going for."

McLaughlin said the Excellence in Cavalry award could only be earned if a Soldier earns a 'go' in all assigned tasks. He also added the event is a chance for Soldiers to set themselves apart from their peers, and for senior leaders to distinguish those capable of increased leadership duties.

"By the end of the course, [most participants] will probably have a 7-10 percent 'go' rate. It just lets the Soldiers see if they have what it takes to excel amongst their peers," said McLaughlin. "If they don't succeed in getting the EIC, they know that they pushed themselves for the past three days and bettered their knowledge for next time."

Teed couldn't agree more.

"It's important for me to get it because its shows leadership that I'm capable of doing my duties to the standard, and it makes you look good in the eyes of your supervisors," said Teed.

When the competition concluded, 27 Phantom Recon troops had finished their final tasks, but only two Soldiers received the coveted EIC award, proving the event's difficulty. Teed was one of the awardees, and said even though the mission in Kosovo is peacekeeping, it is always good to stay proficient in his skills no matter what, because they are easily forgotten.

"This is our job and we have a set of skills we need to perform our job, and we need to stay sharp on them," said Teed.

Page last updated Tue June 17th, 2014 at 00:00