JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. Twelve miles is an important distance in the military. It may sound a little arbitrary, but it's proved to be a defining stretch for many young Soldiers. Whether they're competing for their Expert Field Medical Badge, Expert Infantry Badge or just about any other event that involves ruck marching, you can almost bet that they will need to make it 12 miles with a big pack on their back and in quick fashion.
For Soldiers in the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, "Arrowhead," ruck marching 12 miles was one of only many challenges they faced during the unit's Super Squad Competition May 29 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"It's probably one of the most challenging things I've done being here at JBLM," said Spc. Andrew Morales, a San Angelo, Texas, native and medic with Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3-2 SBCT, who's squad won the event.
This event was part of Arrowhead Week, which was designed to allow Soldiers from various units within the brigade to compete against one another in different events including basketball, flag football, gator ball, golf and a number of others.
While all of those events were important, the Super Squad Competition stands out as probably the most challenging.
Squads from throughout the brigade were brought together to test their skills against one another in a plethora of events. One of the most challenging was the 12 miles, mostly ran, between different stations.
Aside from the marching, the Soldiers also demonstrated their skills with land navigation, weapon assembly, grenade identification, equipping gas masks and a number of other important tasks. These events were selected because they give a good cross section of important skills that combat arms Soldiers are expected to know.
"To ensure that people who are in our job, who have to do what we do, that their prepared and at a moment's notice be able to demonstrate the training we've been given," said Zachery Brooks, a Wake Forest, North Carolina, native and team leader.
Although the events took a lot of strength and concentration, it didn't stop the Soldiers from having a good time.
"Everybody had a light-heartedness about it," said Staff Sgt. James Barnett, a Big Bear, California, native and weapon's squad leader. "They didn't make it too challenging where it's just completely breaking people off. I think it's just a good mixture of brain power and using your muscles and stamina. I thought it was fun."
For the winning squad, this event was the first time that many of the Soldiers had worked together. The group was made up of members of different squads, which added another challenge to an already tough day.
"They did really well," said Brooks. "I'm glad we picked who we picked for our squad. In our company we're all pretty tight knit; we work pretty well together."
With their title safe-at least for the near future-this squad can continue to focus their efforts on training as they prepare to take part in a National Training Center Rotation at Fort Irwin, Calif., in the coming months where they will once again test their skills.