CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- Soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), Task Force Spartan, took their place in front of their peers and leaders as they were named the top tank crew to represent the 'Iron Brigade' at the 2018 Sullivan Cup.
The two-day qualifying competition was held on Feb 27-28 at Udairi Range, Kuwait and featured tank crews from each battalion and squadron who competed for the title of the best tank crew in the brigade. Crews conducted a variety of events such as an armored crewman physical fitness test, range shoot-off, vehicle and ammo identification and a land navigation written test.
"The 2nd ABCT organized and ran a very tough and realistic competition that gave crews a good mix of physically and academically challenging events," said Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris, master gunner for the 1-1 CAV. "At the end of the day, teamwork and execution is what set the 1-1 CAV tank crew above their peers in the brigade best tank competition."
The qualifying 'Iron Brigade' team consisted of Staff Sgt. Carlos Holguin, tank commander; Cpl. Jason Kilbourn, gunner; Spc. Carlos Martinez, loader; and Pfc. Matthew Floresortega, driver. This will be the first time any of these soldiers have participated in the Sullivan Cup competition, set for April 30 to May 4 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
"I look forward to competing against the best tank crews in the world, and performing my absolute best to achieve victory not only for myself, but for my crew and my unit," said Martinez.
The 2018 Sullivan Cup Best Tank Crew Competition is hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Armor School and the 316th Cavalry Brigade.
The competition will be a physically and mentally demanding world-class event that rigorously tests U.S. Army Soldiers, Marines, and International Partners in tank crew maneuver, sustainment and gunnery skills.
"I am expecting a rough competition since this is a worldwide event. We expect a tough fight and I know our team will be training hard and training to win, so that we can bring the Sullivan Cup home to the Iron Brigade," said Holguin.
Each four-man team will cycle through events including a physical challenge; adjusting and aligning the tank's sites; gunnery and offense and defensive maneuvering on the Closed Combat Tactical Trainer. They will receive points based on their time, precision and ability to complete the event.
The crew will train together over the next few months under the direction of Sgt.1st Class Joseph Elkins, master gunner the 2nd ABCT, and Harris.
"All the crews brought their A-game, but ultimately 1-1 CAV came out on top. I'm really happy with the quality of crews our battalions are producing and competitions like this serve to enhance the qualities of all the crews participating," said Elkins.
Elkins explained the soldiers will not only be judged on whether or not they hit the target, but also on the overall performance of the crew -- determined by a number of factors.
"Now the hard part starts," Elkins said. "The winning crew will now transition to a physically and mentally demanding training path that will include our Kuwaiti Partners in order to further hone their lethality."
The Sullivan Cup provides a realistic and challenging tank crew competition that seeks to build esprit de corps within the Armor Force and return the pride of Mobile Protected Firepower gunnery to its rightful place in the mounted force's mindset.
"Competition breeds excellence, and this year's Sullivan Cup Competition has already stoked fires behind some really great tank teams across the formation. I'm excited for our team's chance to compete on this stage, and I am very impressed with the collective performance and drive of our winning team," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Drury, command sergeant major for the 1-1 CAV.
The Sullivan Cup pits the best tanks crews across different branches and nationalities against one another in a grueling, week-long physical and mental challenge. The payoff is to be named the best tank crew.