Josh Grant, a tactical strength and conditioning coach from the U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, conducts a lesson on swimming techniques with paratroopers, March 8, 2022, at the Caserma Ederle pool in Vicenza, Italy.
Josh Grant, a tactical strength and conditioning coach from the U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, conducts a lesson on swimming techniques with paratroopers, March 8, 2022, at the Caserma Ederle pool in Vicenza, Italy. (Photo Credit: Stefanie Mosley, U.S. Army Garrison Italy ) VIEW ORIGINAL

VICENZA, Italy – When 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers prepared themselves for the Best Ranger and Best Sapper competitions, they turned to U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s expertise and training sites for support.

Josh Grant, a tactical strength and conditioning coach from the garrison’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, mentored 10 Soldiers, using the Caserma Ederle pool, plus the gym, track and obstacle course. Grant’s tactics are much different than the traditional “more-is-more Army smoke-fests,” he said.

“These competitions are the smoke-fests we are training them for,” Grant said. “The training we gave them was selected to get more out of them by doing less, to protect them from injury.”

A combat veteran who once was a paratrooper himself, Grant designed a program to help the Soldiers, who were selected for their physical strength and endurance, to prepare for some grueling events. Grant’s methods range from aquatics, high-intensity training and resiliency coaching to ensure the Soldiers are in their best mental state, and massage therapy –which will provide aid to the paratroopers when their bodies become stressed.

During a mock triathlon at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, 1st Lt. Benjamin Pritchett runs with Sgt. 1st Class Junior Reyes in the classic buddy carry, their final task of the training on March 8, 2022 at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy.
During a mock triathlon at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, 1st Lt. Benjamin Pritchett runs with Sgt. 1st Class Junior Reyes in the classic buddy carry, their final task of the training on March 8, 2022 at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy. (Photo Credit: Stefanie Mosley, U.S. Army Garrison Italy) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Soldiers from the 173rd have performed well in these competitions in recent years,” Grant said. He hopes that by monitoring the Soldiers’ training stress and taking advantage of the on-post facilities, the competitors will improve their performance.

“What we've done with them is back them up from doing the most, so they can do their best – giving me their best in each type of workout we've thrown at them,” Grant said.

Completing a round of laps in the pool, 1st Sgt. Wesley Shields stopped to check the time on his watch. He reset his stopwatch and continued. Twelve years ago, Shields first took part in Best Sapper, but he claims that working with Grant has offered more challenging training than what he did in the past.

“Cutting edge training in both program mapping and muscle recovery with the help of the on-base masseuse has been instrumental for the train up,” Shields said. “Josh Grant’s program building, and management is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were.”

U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Wesley Shields checks his time after completing a round of laps in the Caserma Ederle pool, in Vicenza, Italy, before continuing another lap on Feb. 10, 2022. Shields was among several paratroopers training for Army competitions using resources from U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation.
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Wesley Shields checks his time after completing a round of laps in the Caserma Ederle pool, in Vicenza, Italy, before continuing another lap on Feb. 10, 2022. Shields was among several paratroopers training for Army competitions using resources from U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation. (Photo Credit: Stefanie Mosley, U.S. Army Garrison Italy) VIEW ORIGINAL

One afternoon, Grant ran the group through a condensed version of an Army triathlon, to include swimming, biking and an obstacle course. The competitors joined into two-man teams, based on their training stress scores, endurance, overall strength and weight – monitored by a fitness app.

Cpt. Andrew Beck said Soldiers must demonstrate the essence of toughness required for Best Ranger’s 63-hour competition.

“We train to win and show the Army that the 173rd produces experts of their craft capable of going further, faster, and harder than anyone else,” Beck said.

They arrived in Georgia in mid-March, well-poised for the challenges of Best Ranger, said 1st Lt. Benjamin Pritchett.

Josh Grant, right, a tactical strength and conditioning coach from the U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, and fellow coaches discuss performance during a mock triathlon for paratroopers preparing for Army competitions at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy on March 8, 2022.
Josh Grant, right, a tactical strength and conditioning coach from the U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, and fellow coaches discuss performance during a mock triathlon for paratroopers preparing for Army competitions at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy on March 8, 2022. (Photo Credit: Stefanie Mosley, U.S. Army Garrison Italy) VIEW ORIGINAL

“While running and rucking have always been a staple in our train up, additional tools that have been instrumental in our training include various types of strength training, swimming, bike workouts, and physical therapy aimed at recovery,” Pritchett said. “Josh and his team have helped tremendously with coordinating these resources. With their help we have the path to success, now we just have to run it. Sky Soldiers!”

(Stefanie Mosley is a Public Affairs Intern at U.S. Army Garrison Italy)