Silent Warrior Challenge enhances 741st MI BN resiliency commitment
October 18, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Oct. 18, 2012) -- In the wake of the Army Safety Stand-Down Day to combat the risk of suicide within the force, the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion expanded its commitment to the Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program by conducting its inaugural Silent Warrior Challenge on Oct. 1, 3 and 5.
The CSF2 program is designed to build individual Soldier and family resiliency to overcome obstacles and enhance the performance of every Soldier. CSF2 enables resiliency by focusing on five pillars: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family.
The goal of the Silent Warrior Challenge was to solidify Soldier resiliency in the physical, emotional and social pillars through cerebral and physically demanding training events that developed teamwork, esprit de corps and unit cohesion.
Over the course of the Silent Warrior Challenge, the four companies of the 741st MI competed in events ranging from conducting an Army warrior task/urban orienteering race to Military Occupational Specialty proficiency tests and high-mobility multiwheeled vehicle pushes.
"The Soldiers assigned to this battalion will leave one day and relish in the outstanding technical training that they can only get here," Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Terance Huston said. "But there is also the expectation that America's sons and daughters are resilient and able to endure the rigors of whatever challenges lie before them."
Day One consisted of an urban orienteering race, where Soldiers had to locate various points throughout Fort Meade. Once a point was found, they were required to either conduct Army warrior tasks such as evaluating a casualty, performing a weapons function check or answering military/promotion board-related questions.
Day Two was less physical but no less demanding as Soldiers had to complete four, mini-situational training exercises.
One exercise tested the teamwork of company teams to conduct Sensitive Site Exploitation of a mock insurgent bed-down location to extrapolate details of a pending attack on a U.S. forward operating base. This event required Soldiers to put their analytical skills to use as they differentiated between items of intelligence value and items that were distracters.
If performed correctly, each team could articulate the method and time of attack and the insurgent organization responsible.
"I've never deployed before, and doing something like this was really cool," Spc. Rachel Smith of Bravo Company said. "I learned the importance of paying close attention -- not only looking for the obvious, but digging deeper and finding the hidden things. I learned to think like the enemy."
According to senior leadership, that was exactly the intent.
"We want Soldiers who can piece together information and draw intelligent assessments," Huston said.
Another scenario challenged the attention to detail, memory and communication ability of 741st Soldiers. Company teams were divided across three observation posts where they observed a simulated ambush on a U.S. Army squad and an embedded reporter by a Red Force practicing the tactics, techniques and procedures of Al Qaeda in southern Afghanistan.
The scenario culminated with an IED strike resulting in casualties and a kidnapping. Company teams then had to come together and generate SALUTE (size, activity, location, uniform, type and equipment) reports describing the details of the battlefield and events that unfolded before them.
Simulated explosions, machine gun fire and high-speed getaways added to the realism.
"We worked on [the SALUTE scenario] for about two weeks," said Sgt. Joshua Brown of Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "We had a lot of elements incorporated into this exercise to make it as realistic as possible, given the time and resource constraints."
Other scenarios included MOS proficiency quizzes and performing a nine-line medevac request.
"This provides Soldiers with an opportunity to assess themselves on where they stand," Bravo Company 1st Sgt. Angel Espada said. "Hopefully, this will serve as a wake-up call for some of the Soldiers. These are a few of the things the Army is expecting you to know."
Day Three concluded by living up to the "warrior" aspect of the Silent Warrior Challenge. Four teams of 10 had to work together as they completed an arduous physical challenge: sniper push-ups, 100-yard over-unders, 300-pound team log presses, a one-mile run, carrying 500 pounds of sandbags for two miles, and a two-mile HMMWV push to the finish line -- all while remembering items shown to company teams in a memory box.
"Yeah, I'm really tired," Spc. Joshua Miller of Charlie Company said after the event. "I definitely had to rely on [fellow teammates]. Without us pushing each other, we would have failed."
And it was teamwork, not necessarily physical training, that this event was trying to enforce.
"When we created this challenge, we wanted to make sure each portion was geared towards a different strength," said Alpha Company Commander Capt. Matt Sheftic. "No one Soldier will excel all of the stations. This event forces teamwork and emphasizes the total warrior concept that we've wanted to push throughout the week."
While teamwork, building esprit de corps and realistic training were key components of the Silent Warrior Challenge, Soldier resiliency was the primary focus.
"There are many Soldiers working in sections that do not see or interact with each other," Huston said. "This was an opportunity to bring the battalion together through some friendly competition. And competition often brings out the best in people."
The competition brought out the best of Charlie Company, the winners of the weeklong event.
"This is for you," said Capt. Natalie O'Dea, company commander, as she held up the award -- an inscribed Roman Rudis sword that will be in her company's possession until the next Silent Warrior Challenge.