FORT CARSON, Colo. (Feb. 12, 2019) -- 'Warhorse' Soldiers of 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division competed in the annual Department of the Army-level Phillip A. Connelly Competition at the Fort Carson range area, receiving their final evaluation on Feb. 6.

The contest that is utilized to measure a unit's ability to provide top-notch tactical field feeding operations. The exercise also involves logistics and security aspects where the team must not only sustain themselves, but also be able to deliver food to units who are not co-located at the actual cooking site.

"The competition includes the cook's executing their area of expertise with meal preparation and execution within regulation for the meals that are evaluated," explained 1st Lt. Ryan Kariker, the executive officer of E Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "The other aspect is command focus, and the amount of support that we have received from the Brigade and the Division has been helpful."

Planning for the event began to back in April, and they have participated in numerous other competitions prior to this exercise.

"This team competed for the Division, Forces Command, and III Corps and this is the final step of getting that validation for the Department of the Army, so if we are successful we will have overcome some stiff competition," said Staff Sgt. Curtis W. McFarland, Jr., an advanced culinary NCO and the non-commissioned officer in charge for the competition assigned to Hazard Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

The winners of the competition will be determined in April, and that team will be invited to American Culinary Federation Headquarters in Chicago to receive the Phillip A. Connelly Award at some point this summer.

"You need to have all your paperwork set up and squared away, and it's your traditional meal request," McFarland pointed out. "It's all of your maintenance packet, it's your production schedules, which is basically the menu that lets the Soldiers know what to make and what temperatures the food needs to be at, range cards for guard positions, but the biggest thing that they worry about is sanitation."

Setting up tents for operations in the field during the unpredictable Colorado winter with its ever-changing weather patterns can be challenging, but establishing internal structure in order to be successful in the competition with Soldiers from different units can provide certain difficulties as well.

"One of the biggest challenges that at the same time kind of helps us out too is not having the Connolly team pulled from one Forward Support Company," Kariker stated. "You don't initially have that internal task organization with Squad Leaders, etc.., but once we recognized it as an area of improvement and it straightened itself out."

The experience was rewarding for the 'Warhorse' team, and was a solid learning experience.

"This level of competition is pretty intense so dealing with it is a whole different level of stress, but once we finish the competition and hopefully win, it'll definitely be worth it," McFarland said.

Following the evaluation, the culinary staff were impressed with what they had seen.

"The team from E, Forward Support Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion did an outstanding job preparing for and executing the DA Level Philip A. Connelly Field Competition," Sgt. Maj. Ken Fauska, the 4th Infantry Division chief culinary management sergeant major, said. "I am extremely proud of the team and know they will continue to strive for excellence."

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