FORT BENNING, Ga. - The leaders of 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, mustered well before sunrise Friday to lock up in the inaugural CSM Quarterly Physical Fitness Challenge at Sand Hill.

Hauling 35-pound equipment packs over a course nearly six miles long, 35 cadre members had to negotiate seven combat-oriented stations and employ the battle concepts they teach to the hundreds of privates under their watch in basic training. The three-hour competition left the "Rock Force" Soldiers a little winded and muddied, but generally no worse for wear.

"None of the senior NCOs got up from any event and saw Jesus," joked 1SG James Litchford of B Company. "It was challenging, but you're not going to die ... We did pretty much everything we ask these privates to do. We just did it all at one time.

"We have to lead by example. We can't ask them to do it if we can't do it ourselves."

The event featured seven teams of five members each. Every company fielded an entry and there was one squad with the command sergeant major and his first sergeants.

In the end, C Company - made up of SSG Jason Reed, SSG Josh Sedivy, SSG Justin Wells, SFC Erick Ochs and CPT Thomas Schlichter - claimed the top spot by just a point over the CSM-1SG team, which included CSM Brian Hamm, the battalion command sergeant major; Litchford, and 1SGs Kevin Artis, Perry Meeks and Robert Fortenberry.

"I'm a little surprised we won," Wells said. "You had to maintain a constant speed between the stations. But we just did what we do every day - that's all it was."

Ochs said it's good to bring the battalion's command team together and perform the same tasks cadre require privates to do.

"Overall, this helps us be better trainers and better officers," he said. "It shows we can get dirty, too."

The challenge emphasizes attention to detail and boosts camaraderie, Hamm said.

"We're big on team building around here," he said. "Everyone is so focused on the trainees. It's real big to have the cadre come together like this. It builds cohesion, and lets everybody have a little fun."

LTC Thomas Sheehan, the battalion commander, said the unit had never organized a "combat-focused" contest to this extent.

"You have to be strong and smart to do well in the CSM challenge," he said. "Competition is a good thing."

Sedivy, a drill sergeant, said events such as the quarterly physical fitness challenge promote healthy rivalries within the units of "Rock Force."

"Everybody is so busy doing their own thing," he said. "We don't get an opportunity to interact with the other companies that often."

The winners each got a $25 gift card, 198th Infantry Brigade and battalion coins, and had their names added to the CSM Quarterly Physical Fitness Challenge trophy.

The battalion's companies maintain a hectic pace and tend to operate independently, said Fortenberry, the E Company first sergeant, who helped his team to a runner-up finish. He said the event offered a good gathering point and was a solid test of endurance and tactical training.

"It was challenging but not unachievable," he said. "We're so focused on trainees all the time. It's nice to be able to get together and do stuff like this. It was a lot of fun."

Hamm said organizers may change or modify some future events by incorporating different combat maneuvers.

"We'll change up the flavor every time we do it," he said.


The CSM Quarterly Physical Fitness Challenge at 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, included seven stations with a specific task or scenario:

* Layout - Pre-combat inspection of gear.
* Obstacle Course
* Weapons/Ammo Cache
* Push-ups/Situps
* Casualty Evacuation
* Tire Carry
* Battalion History Test

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16