Blackhawk Soldiers finish year strong, take on "Cav Stakes"
Pvt. Kyle Daniels, C Troop, 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, reassembles a Mark 19 grenade launcher during the first day of the troop's "Cav Stakes" competition Monday at the troop area. Daniels, who arrived at Fort Wainwright last month, is one of the many new Soldiers who have arrived at the squadron in recent months.

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - It's a "Cav" thing. That may be the best explanation for the inspiration behind the "Cav Stakes" competition leaders and Soldiers from C Troop, 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division completed this week. It would have been easy to coast through the last week before Christmas block leave, but C/5-1st leaders and Soldiers had something else in mind.

Designed as a series of events testing Soldiers at both the individual and team levels, "Cav Stakes" offered Soldiers an opportunity to prove their mettle and have some fun at the same time. "This event gives us the opportunity to get out of the classroom and train and test on (key) tasks before block leave," said Capt. Jake Teplesky, C/5-1st commander.

The multi-day competition allowed Soldiers to accumulate points with the winning Soldier and noncommissioned officer each earning an Army achievement medal. Winners will be announced at the culminating event, the troop's Leisure Sports Olympics, which includes ping pong, fooseball, other games and a hotdog-eating contest, at the Warrior Zone today.
Day one of "Cav Stakes" on Monday took Soldiers through a variety of individual tasks like weapons assembly and disassembly, combat lifesaver evaluation and communication checks.

Although this part of the event involved common tasks, things every Soldier should know how to do, Soldiers like Spc. Jared Vivyan, C/5-1st, said training on skills like combat lifesaving are essential as the squadron prepares to deploy in the spring. "Soldiers should get whatever training (they) can get but remember that it's never as easy when it's the actual thing," he said. Training like this is important because "there's not always going to be a medic around. Sometimes you've got to rely on yourself or your buddy," he said.

Staff Sgt. Robert Briggs, C/5-1st, said that performing basic soldiering skills like assembling and disassembling the M240B machine gun was an important part of "Cav Stakes" because it helped leaders ensure Soldiers' skill sets are where they are supposed to be. "This is one of the main tools we use," Briggs said about the M240B. "For team leaders and gunners, this is their bread and butter. It's probably one of the most reliable weapons in our arsenal." Briggs said that "Cav Stakes" was about more than brushing up on basic skills and hopes C/5-1st Soldiers get a lot out of the events. "I hope they walk away with some more esprit de corps as part of the Cav because it's a great organization to be in," he said. "I hope that their skill sets are up and that building a good competition helps them with that esprit de corps; helps them bring that brotherhood together. I think that's imperative for deployment."

Team-level training began Tuesday with a competitive broomball tournament at the PFC. As teams were eliminated from the tournament they conducted dismounted operations, to include area reconnaissance and react-to-contact drills, at training areas around the installation.

In addition to furthering individual and team-level training, Teplesky said boosting morale and building camaraderie were definite goals of the "Cav Stakes" competition, particularly in events like the broomball tournament. "We have a lot of healthy competition within the troop so this is a great thing," he said. "We've been working some late hours (lately) so this is a chance for them to have a little fun."

Staff Sgt. Michael Johnston, C/5-1st, said Soldiers enjoyed the broomball tournament and mixing fun activities into typical duties spices up training for Soldiers. "It's a good morale booster. You can see they're all having a good time," he said.

Troop events like this one are important as the squadron prepares to go to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., soon, said Lt. Col. Dave Raugh, 5-1st commander.
Between the influx of new privates and the recent squadron team leader course, the assessment that the event offered leaders was invaluable, he said. "Ultimately it was a great way to close out a great year of (training) execution prior to Christmas break," Raugh said.

Teplesky deemed the "Cav Stakes" event a success. "I was very pleased with the (Soldiers') performance, especially the new privates who just got here from basic training. It was also nice to see the progress of the new Soldiers we received in July. In six months their skills have really increased," he said.

Page last updated Tue December 21st, 2010 at 13:55