CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- The Army loves traditions -- especially those that involve Soldiers crawling through mud and enduring cold weather in order to surmount a fitness test or physical challenge. Fortunately, the Cavalry scouts of Multinational Battle Group-East's Forward Command Post have upheld the proud tradition of the "Order of the Spur," after completing a variety of grueling tasks at Camp Bondsteel, June 3.
As lightening cracked overhead, followed by the low grumble of thunder, the Spur candidates prepared for what would be an exhaustive 12-hour ordeal. The tradition of "earning your spurs" dates back to the early days of the Cavalry, before Humvees replaced horses. New Soldiers were not awarded their spurs until they had been adequately trained in all methods of horsemanship, for fear that they would injure their animals.
Now, Soldiers had the chance to put their tactical skills to the test in a variety of modern-day challenges. The candidate teams would ruck to each of the 10 stations and perform tasks ranging from weapons assembly to casualty evacuation. Each station was specifically designed to test leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, physical fitness, and the Soldier's ability to operate as members of a squad under high levels of stress and fatigue. The exercise reinforced that the Calvary doesn't give their spurs away -- the Soldiers have to earn them.
"I was so tempted to give up, but knowing that I completed something so difficult gives me more self-confidence," said Pfc. Wesley Peppers, a Soldier assigned to MNBG-East's Forward Command Post. "I finally feel like I'm part of Cavalry family."
The rain kept falling in torrents, proving to be as much of a challenge for the test supervisors as it was for the candidates. But if there's one thing the candidates carry with them -- in addition to the tourniquets in their cargo pockets -- it's their pride. Their confidence in their abilities as Soldiers and as Cavalry men and women makes the rain less cold, makes the mud less annoying, and makes the long hours of the night much shorter.
"The spurs are the number one symbol of what it means to be a Cavalryman," said Pfc. Edward Murphy, a Cavalry scout assigned to MNBG-East's Forward Command Post. "Having our spurs means we earned our spots in the Cavalry world."