Long Knife commanders remain Army Strong
April 12, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--As "Reveille" played and the American flag was raised on the morning of March 23, commanders from the company through brigade level saluted and kicked off a PT competition to assess who is the fittest in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
The competition tested the officers physically as both individuals and as battalion teams and served as a way to build cohesion among those responsible for leading formations of Soldiers in both peacetime and combat missions.
In their respective groups, company and battalion commanders as well as the brigade commander, raced from the brigade headquarters to an obstacle course on Fort Hood, wearing ACUs, combat gear, and 35-pound rucksacks.
The spirit of the competition became even more competitive as each of the teams listened to the rules of the competition and prepared to prove who was strongest while negotiating the obstacles on the course.
"The commander's competition is a great event to get all the company commander out to practice some military skills," said Col. William Benson, commander of 4th BCT. "The Army is an outdoor sport, so anytime you can give leaders a little competition and incorporate some Army skills-- that's good training."
Soldiers raced against time and their battle buddies to have the quickest time in each of the obstacles.
"I think this helped us to understand some of the group dynamics within or battalion command teams, because events like this help us to understand where each other's strengths and weaknesses are," stated Capt. Robert Cowart, commander for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
A native of Irving, Texas, Cowart added, "This was a good team-building event. It gave us a chance to see how everyone reacts in different situations and brought us closer, because we endured the challenge together. It builds camaraderie."
From climbing to the top of a rope to running around a track while carrying a log as a team, commanders continued to push themselves with little time to rest in between obstacles.
"Physical training helps set the conditions for success for everything that follows. It builds the foundation and sets the tone for you as an individual and leader," stated Lt. Col. Jose, Polanco, commander of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment.
"Physical fitness not only molds physical toughness but mental toughness as well, making you a better-rounded Soldier," added Polanco, a native of New York.
Commanders assigned to 1st Sqdn., 9th Cav. Reg., "Head Hunters" finished first in the overall competition. A win they worked collectively to obtain--pushing past fatigue and testing their limits.
"It was great to have them achieve first place but even greater to have them finish together," said Polanco.
The obstacle course did not mark the end of the competition. Once the last member of each team negotiated the final obstacle, commanders ran back to the Long Knife brigade headquarters to receive their final time for the competition.
"I think it's always good to see commanders out front doing the things that Soldiers do, and by having them in teams, all the commanders from each battalion had to work together to complete the course," said Benson, a Needham, Mass., native. "They started as a team, went through the course as a team and finished as a team. The most important thing is that everyone finished and didn't give up."
"Long Knife" commanders of the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., can expect quarterly events such as the commanders competition to help build morale, unit cohesion, and maintain physical readiness. This type of training enhances the strength of Troopers, encouraging them to not only be "Army Strong" but also "Cav Tough".