Story by 1st Lt. Hugh Foster, 561st Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The warriors of the 561st Engineering Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command recently returned from East Range at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from their squad sticks certification on warrior tasks and battle drills.

The squads consisted of nine- to 12-soldier teams who participated in a three-day round-robin course where they were evaluated on their ability to complete specific warrior tasks and battle drills and work as a cohesive team.

The certification started with each squad being flown to Command Operating Post Warrior by helicopter. Upon arriving, the landing zone was secured and set up began, initiating the beginning of day one.

The first day was warrior stakes. All squads competed in six separate lanes: consisting of weapons, land navigation, communication, medical, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, and detainee operations. Each lane was conducted by an observer/controller, who received the squads and evaluated them on their ability to complete each warrior task. Upon completion of each lane, squads rucked throughout the course to their next station.

Day two was squad patrols which utilized the previous day's course in reverse order. Squads maneuvered through a total of seven lanes, consisting of react to CBRN attack, react to improvised explosive devices, react to ambush, leader engagement, bridge reconnaissance, and movement to contact.

Each squad leader was given a task, condition, and standard, and then given total control over their squad to approach the lane at their discretion. Upon completion of each lane, squads and team leaders were given a chance to reorganize and refit, while the lane O/C presented the squad leader with their evaluation, providing beneficial information for the squad and squad leader in future similar situations.

The third and final day was the confidence course. This allowed for teams and squads to display the past two days worth of team building and squad cohesion. Each squad maneuvered through the obstacle course, being assessed on time of completion, with or without faults.

Once all three days of evaluations were completed, the command teams tallied up the points from each squad's participation and ranked them.

After all points were tallied, Sgt. Floyd Haley's 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon was declared the winner in a very close race. Only tenths of seconds separated the top four spots.

Second place was awarded to Sgt. Jesus Rodriguez, 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, and third place was awarded to Sgt. Markus Rausch, 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon.

Overall the warriors were pleased with the outcome of the training, and many of the competing soldiers expressed their overall satisfaction with their performance, the competition itself, and the cohesion built with their battle buddies.

"I am very pleased with the outcome, and I look forward to seeing how the camaraderie built during this event carries into upcoming and future construction operations," said Capt. Jonathan Browning, the 561st company commander.