By Bryan GatchellMay 7, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The Sullivan Cup, a biennial competition to determine the best tank crew in the Army through a series of scored tests, finished May 4 with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia, earning the top spot at Fort Benning, Georgia.
After several days of competition, the tank crews performed one final timed event May 4.
Staggered by their points placement on the morning of the last day, the tank crews ran a 1.7-mile route to Brave Rifles Field the morning of May 4. On the field, the crewmembers performed several tank-related physical and mental tasks. Crewmembers also completed five burpees between each station, and there was a five-burpee penalty for incorrect responses and failures on tasks.
After the completion of the final competitive event, tallies were made of the scores from throughout the competition. The top finishers in the Sullivan Cup were:
- 1st place: B Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Stewart, Georgia
- 2nd place: C Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas
- 3rd place: 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Brig. Gen. David A. Lesperance, commandant of the U.S. Army Armor School at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, spoke at the competition's closing ceremony.
"Never in my wildest imagination would I have guessed that it would have delivered what it did for army today," said Lesperance. "They truly have identified the best tank crew and tank crews the Army has to offer today."
The first day of competition included a stress shoot adapted specifically for tank crews and a ranked simulated combat maneuver exercise. On the second two days, the crews conducted a live-fire exercise and a situational training exercise. The scored events were meant to represent both what tank crews trained on and what they could expect in combat.
"What do we expect of a tank crew in our army today?" Lesperance asked rhetorically during the closing ceremony. "We expect that tank crew to be able to survive, maneuver to a point of positional advantage, to get our weapons into the fight and to deliver first-round lethality and have an effect on our target and have our target destroyed."
Staff Sgt. Johnathan Werner, tank commander, Cpl. Justin Harris, gunner, Pvt. Brandon Zacher, loader, and Pvt. Dekken Sanders, driver, the winning tank crew from 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, had only worked together for a few months before joining the competition.
"It's pretty intense for the past roughly three months, but we gave it our all," said Harris.
Werner described the competition as "fierce."
"This is stuff that we do on a day-to-day basis -- tanker grade gunnery, maneuvering -- this is our job," said Werner. "But when you put everyone in one area, the best of the best you possibly in the entire world, and then you compete and you have a bunch of alpha males, it kind of speaks for itself."
Werner echoed Lesperance's belief in the real-life use of the training they received during the competition.
"The way they facilitated the training, just by the book, the way they did the props for the gunnery, the way they did the STX training and the stress shoot, it was a little more realistic for combat engagement," said Werner. "We should be able to take that back to the units and implement that on a lower level, not necessarily just for competitors. But if we can do this worldwide and have the worldwide training, the way the Army can, it's what we really need to work toward."
Both Zacher and Sanders, who have been in the Army for less than a year, found it strange to return to Fort Benning after finishing their basic training here. Sanders described the experience as "surreal." Zacher appreciated seeing his trainers.
"It's been pretty great seeing some of our old drill sergeants and shaking their hands," said Zacher. "They've been rooting for us, so it feels great."
To see photos from the 2018 Sullivan Cup, visit "Photo Album" in the "Related Links" section on this page.