Soldiers assigned to the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade beat out seven other teams assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps during a day-long competition under cold weather conditions testing their physical strength, mental fortitude and teamwork ability to earn the title of “Best Squad” among America’s Contingency Corps Separate Brigades at Fort Bragg, N.C., Nov 15.
The eight squads consisted of Soldiers assigned to the 525th Expeditionary-Military Intelligence Brigade, 44th Medical Brigade, 35th Signal Brigade, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 16th Military Police Brigade, 7th Transportation Brigade - Expeditionary, and the 20th Engineer Brigade.
This inaugural competition put Soldiers to the test going head-to-head in a series of events. The events included the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), a qualification and stress shoot with assigned weapons, and a six-event course designed to assess squads on squad-level tasks and drills to include reacting to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threat, conduct a hasty defence, treat, prepare, and move a casualty, call for medical evacuation, movement of a casualty to a medical site, react to contact, movement while under fire, and a mystery event dubbed “Brain Games” where squads had to transport equipment using various items.
The competition aimed to increase overall readiness among those Soldiers involved by instilling tactical and technical proficiency and building teamwork, confidence and camaraderie among the squads.
“I’m seeing squad leaders taking charge in organizing their Soldiers and building a strategy to execute the tasks at hand,” said Sgt. Maj. Chris Burger, who was the lead planner for the competition and serves as the operations and readiness sergeant major assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps. “I’ve been seeing a lot of motivation and team cohesion, and it’s been pretty impressive to watch.”
The core of the competition was centred on the U.S. Army’s “This Is My Squad” or TIMS initiative. The purpose of TIMS creates to build cooperative and strong teams throughout the U.S. Army.
From the very beginning of the competition, which started in the early hours of the day, each squad knuckled down and gave it their all letting each other know that beyond any doubt, they were here to compete. The competition also allowed the Soldiers involved to hone their skills.
“I think it’s important because as a non-commissioned officer, we already have a basis of all these skills, so it's good that we can come out here and do things like this,” said Sgt. Lance Raban, a member of the 20th Engineer Brigade.
Sgt. Maj. Burger hopes to have another competition like this in six months because events like this “bring out the best in these Soldiers through the spirit of competition by letting them show what they’re capable of.”