ASCHAFFENBURG, Germany - Five Soldiers from the 1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 39th Transportation Battalion competed against civilian material-handling equipment operators from 19 countries, Sept. 16.

The annual Stapler Cup International Forklift Competition provides U.S. Soldiers a unique opportunity to further develop their military occupational specialty proficiency and enrich U.S. Army Europe's pillar of "Allies and Partners" through friendly competition with European civilians.

The competition had more than 15,000 spectators and focused on material handling within a warehouse setting, utilizing the Linde warehouse forklift systems. Soldiers were tasked with moving boxes of different sizes and weights, moving pallets of crates with glass bottles, and balancing boards of different lengths.

The competitors had the additional challenge of completing all these tasks around ever-changing obstacles. Though the Soldiers were out of their normal operating environment, training conducted within the unit helped prepare them for the four days of competition.

"The competition provided a great learning environment for how other countries operate their material handling equipment," said Spc. Tina Shreves, 1st ICTC Operations Specialist.

Participating in the Stapler Cup provided an exclusive experience for the 16th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers to build partnerships and camaraderie with other countries in a civilian setting.

Competitors hailed from Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

Soldiers from 1st ICTC were later given a tour of the Linde factory to learn more about the machines used during the competition.

Events such as the Stapler Cup provide Soldiers more efficient and creative solutions to conventional military problems. The Soldiers learned from the experience and are looking forward to placing higher in the competition next year.

"For next year's competition we will be ready to compete at a higher level," said Spc. Libia Garcia, 1st ICTC Operations Specialist.

More than 20,000 men and women have participated in the annual Stapler Cup International Forklift Competition since 2005.