Squad PT competition focuses on warrior skills
June 2, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - "A little friendly competition to kind of bring out their competitive spirit," is how Capt. Brendan Gallagher, the commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, described his company's physical training competition held at North Fort Hood May 28.
After completing what turned out to be an extremely demanding course, however, some of his Soldiers had a more candid description.
"I expected it to be pretty miserable and it was pretty miserable," Proctor, Vt. native, Spc. Jordan Gusky, said laughing, but clearly exhausted, after he and his squad finished the course.
Dubbed the Bushmaster Squad PT Competition, the event was designed to be more than just an iron man competition. According to Gallagher the idea was to encompass several of the individual tasks that his Soldiers have been training on over the past couple of months into one training event, which focused on teamwork.
"There are a lot of different warrior tasks out there, which all units are required to train up on before an upcoming deployment," Gallagher, who is originally from Baltimore, Md., explained. "We're basically incorporating a lot of different things but it's all kind of geared towards PT, marksmanship, medical skills training - some of those big overarching things that are critical to us, and so I thought this would be a creative way to practice all of those warrior tasks all at once."
Beginning around mid-morning, the squads set out from the range onto the course in 45-minute intervals with each Soldier carrying a 35-pound ruck sack for
a two-and-a-half-mile road march.
Once the entire squad reached the turnaround point, they loaded their rucks into the back of a humvee, which they then had to push for 150 meters.
At the next station, one Soldier served as a simulated casualty while four of his squad members loaded him onto a litter and carried him for mile. In addition to the casualty, the squad also had to move three, five gallon water cans with them to the next point.
Once there, a nine-line medical evacuation had to be called up, before they set off on a jog back toward the range. A couple hundred meters before they reached the range though, the Soldiers had to don their chemical masks and finish the run wearing them.
After returning to the range, the squad had six weapons to reassemble before heading to the firing line where each Soldier went through a close quarters marksmanship course firing from several different positions.
The final event was an IV stick administered by one member of the squad on another, and once that was successfully performed, the clock was stopped and the squad was given it's time, which averaged around three hours.
"It's a smoker. It's a tough event," Gallagher said. "By the time they get back here and do the weapons assembly and the stress shoot, they're fatigued. So it's really a test - it's hot out, it's in the 90's, running all around in full gear - to see how they perform under really difficult conditions."
1st Lt. Brian Hardin, who went through the course with the first squad said that the course was a little more difficult than what he was expecting.
"I guess that's probably good because if it was too easy you really wouldn't get a good experience out of it," the St. Louis, Mo. native said, adding that the most difficult part of the competition was the litter carry, which he said was not only physically demanding, but also a learning experience for his Soldiers.
"You're pretty much combat ineffective after just one or two minor casualties that need help, and that will put a damper on a squad," Hardin said. "So at least they got to see that and get an understanding of how rough it could be."
Challenging themselves with events like this, Hardin said, not only ensures that his Soldiers are well trained, but are both mentally and physically, prepared for whatever mission they may be given.
"When you have absolutely nothing left, that's a lot to deal with," he said. "Taking care of your battle buddies because they're feeling the sun, and just making sure that everybody's going to make it in together.'
'Their spirits are up, but they're tired, they're very tired. They should get some good sleep tonight."