PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – The warrior-nerds of the 229th Military Intelligence battalion stormed out of the barracks with a vengeance last week, nearly a year after COVID-19 forced the Army’s future combat linguists inside.
The inaugural Warrior Task and Battle Drill competition tested each company’s best squad on their ability to manage battlefield casualties from emergency care to medivac. The Soldiers moved tactically from station to station as gunfire blared over the loudspeakers and smoke wafted through the air. The makeshift battlefield on the Presidio’s Price Fitness Center Field provided a sharp contrast to the stale barracks rooms many of the Soldiers have, by necessity, turned into a classroom and workplace.
Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Reynolds, the event’s coordinator, said the battalion’s new quarterly competition is more than just a coming-out party for its Soldiers, but also a return to basics.
“We’re all riflemen first,” said Reynolds. “When Soldiers come here, the rigors of language school cause them to lose some focus on their basic warrior skills, and for the past year COVID has made our task of preparing Soldiers for their future units even tougher. This competition helps bring us back toward that more tactical, pre-COVID mindset.”
Reynolds said that while the competition pits each company’s best squad against each other to earn a coveted guidon streamer, all of the battalion’s Soldiers have been training from the most seasoned Soldier to those fresh out of basic training.
That includes Spc. John Liveringhouse, who led the Charlie Company “Cobras” to victory by embodying his company’s motto “strike hard, strike fast.”
“We worked really hard not only to learn the skills we used today, but to come together as a team,” the Iraqi-Arabic linguist said.
He said what makes combat-linguists unique is how they can use their language skills and intelligence gathering ability to help shape the battlefield, but if they can’t keep up with the infantry squad they’re attached to, those skills lose their value.
“We believe to be an effective force multiplier on the battlefield, that we not only need to be technically proficient at our language, but tactically proficient as Soldiers,” Liveringhouse said. “If we can’t keep up, we’ll be left behind.”
The 229th MI Bn. will hold their next quarterly Warrior Task and Battle Drill competition this summer testing land navigation. Until then, the streamer, and more importantly bragging rights, will be held by Liveringhouse’s “Cobras.”