JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is scheduled to host a Sustainer Challenge here March 18-19.

The challenge includes a 5 mile road march, weapons qualification, Army physical fitness test and other events to test each Soldiers' tactical skills, team skills and develop cohesion and camaraderie among 3d ESC Soldiers.

"The competition is a good way for Soldiers to get hands on training, use their Warrior Skills and create good morale amongst each other," said Master Sgt. Juan M. Dominguez, counter improvised explosive device non-commissioned officer in charge for the 3d ESC.

All 22 battalions that fall under the 3d ESC, plus the 3d ESC itself, will have a team. Each team is made up of six Soldiers, five participants and one sponsor competing in the challenge. Each team must include one officer, one female Soldier, one Soldier over 30 and one certified combat life saver.

Although Sustainer Challenge is taking place in Balad, there are teams from all over Iraq coming to compete. Teams will travel from their duty locations, such as Contingency Operating Base Speicher or Contingency Operating Base Q-West, to JBB to participate in the challenge.

Each six-Soldier team will compete in seven events over the course of two days. The events were chosen to test basic Soldiering tasks and drills.

Soldiers will have to complete a 5 mile road march beginning at Holt Stadium and ending at Smith Range. Each Soldier will have to wear their interceptor body armor, carry their weapon and have an 18 pound ruck sack.

At Smith range, the Soldiers will be tested on their weapons knowledge and two Soldiers from each team will be tasked to qualify with their weapons, one with a 9mm and one with an M-16.

After the weapons portion of the competition, the Soldiers will be transported back to Holt Stadium where they will be tested on medical tasks during a 100 meter litter carry. Then they will change the tire on a humvee and perform an Army physical fitness test.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge," said Maj. Michael J. Arnold, a native of Sarasota, Fla., and logistics plans officer for the 3d ESC who plans on competing in March's challenge. "I take pride in being physically fit and want to lead from the front."

Arnold said he is glad that he chose to participate even though he was wary of the idea at first.

"Initially, I thought I was going to be too busy to compete," Arnold said. "Then, as I read the itinerary, I realized it would be an amazing opportunity for me to participate in something and work closely with NCOs and junior enlisted. It's a great way to test your Warrior Tasks and build camaraderie."

Training for the challenge has been a rewarding experience, Arnold said.

"During something like this you have to trust the Soldier standing on your left and your right, and I feel our team does," Arnold said. "I'm so inspired by each one of these Soldiers. They motivate me and make we want to give it my all and do my best."

Although the competition is weeks away, Arnold said he and his team are ready.

"We're excited," Arnold said, "we take pride in our organization and want to represent them well."

Story by Spc. Kelly Anne Beck