Fort Bragg Scouts compete for Excellence in Armor
March 3, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Cavalry scouts with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, competed for the coveted Excellence in Armor recognition Feb. 10 through 12 at the All American Landing Zone.
According to Sgt. Maj. Charles Gregory, the 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt. operations sergeant major, this not only marked the first time 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt. scouts have undergone this training, but it is the first time in the 82nd Abn. Div.'s long history to hold this type of qualification. Only 2,000 cavalry scouts in a career field of about 28,000 is EIA qualified.
"To my knowledge, this is the first squad in the division to be given latitude to do this," said Gregory. "We had a lot of support from the (1st BCT) leadership."
Armor cavalry Soldiers are relatively new to the division. The 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt. stood up as part of the 1st BCT in August 2006. Gregory explained that cavalry scouts are the eyes and ears of the brigade serving out front of everyone, gaining information about the enemy and relaying it back to higher command.
"Due to the youth of the organization, we have young sergeants running lanes who have not even qualified the course," Gregory said. "It is good training for them because they'll have a good idea of the course and know the standards when they participate."
The EIA is much like the Expert Infantryman Badge in that paratroopers must pass prerequisite tests such as a 12-mile road march, qualifying sharpshooter with a rifle, meeting a minimum 260 score on the Army Physical Fitness Test and successfully completing land navigation among other basic skill sets in order to qualify to compete.
However, unlike the EIB where Soldiers can retry two stations and still pass, scouts who want the EIA on their enlisted records brief must pass all 19 stations with a first time go. Unique stations such as the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System, along with first aid, grenades, nuclear biological and chemical, claymore mines and competency on various weapon systems separates the EIA from others making it a unique recognition among cavalry scouts.
The LRASS is essential to cavalry scout operations because it can put eyes on the enemy from great distances in a variety of environments and conditions allowing scouts to do their jobs of reporting on enemy activity, said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Crawford, the LRASS grader at the EIA site.
"It has a GPS, laser range finder, day and night sites and a thermal range finder helpful in spotting IED's buried in the ground," said Crawford. "It's essential for recon and target acquisition and was used extensively in Iraq for observation."
Soldiers like Sgt. Andrew Torchia, Troop B, 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt., and Pvt. Mathew Gupton, Troop A, 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt., were graded on putting the LRASS equipment together correctly without damaging the system.
According to Jonathon Sandry, Troop B, 3rd Sq., 73rd Cav. Regt., each troop received individual training before the EIA qualification.
"It's good training because we have a lot of new guys here and they're learning a lot of good stuff because it shows you know your job and skill level ready to move on in your career," said Sandry. "This training gave me confidence that I know my job and can train my Soldiers, it's a good refresher."
Sgt. 1st Class William Stewart, the EIA lanes noncommissioned officer in charge, said the three-day training has been good all around and credited the week-long training prior to the qualification for the success. He said the Mark 19 has proven the most difficult and the Soldiers agreed.
"The Mark 19 lane was definitely the toughest because it's a lot of steps with minor details," Sandry explained.
Gregory concluded saying this type of training builds scout heritage, leadership in the ranks and esprit de corps.
"This training instills pride in the cavalry organization to strive to be recognized as the best in your career field," Gregory said.