CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - After two months of training, 19 U.S. Soldiers tested their newly acquired grappling skills by competing in a Modern Army Combatives Tournament in Memorial Hall here recently.

Size and power were not the deciding factors for the contestants, assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, 'Rough Rider' Battalion, as the competitors channeled their stress and fatigue into positive energy during exhibition bouts that served as a finale to the course.

"We wanted to have a competition at the end of the class to boost the morale and welfare of the Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Wesley Wilcox, the Rough Rider Soldier responsible for organizing the tournament. "It's important for Soldiers to take time away from the mission and have a little fun."

Only competitors that properly executed the grappling techniques made their way to the tournament finals.

For the Soldiers who competed, there was a feeling of accomplishment to the tournament.

"This is a good way to relieve stress and react to real-life combat situations," said Spc. Larry Walker, a Rough Rider trooper from Stockton, Calif.
Walker, a six-foot-tall, 260-pound combat veteran was a favorite to win the competition. After the first round, this goliath-like contender fell short of his goal and was defeated by a smaller and more experienced fighter.

The winner was Pfc. Lamarcus Bailey, a Mansfield, La. Native. He fought in four different matches against his fellow Rough Rider Soldiers.

"It makes me feel good, out of all the troops that competed I was the best," said Bailey.