Soldiers from the 16th Military Police Brigade placed their unit insignia on the oar signifying being the best squad as they beat out seven other teams during the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Best Squad Competition among Corps Separates at Fort Bragg, N.C., June 8, 2022.
Along with the 16th Military Police Brigade, squads from the 525th Expeditionary-Military Intelligence Brigade, 44th Medical Brigade, 35th Signal Brigade, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 7th Transportation Brigade - Expeditionary, and the 20th Engineer Brigade competed in the two-day competition.
The XVIII Airborne Corps’ Best Squad Competition for the Corps Separates was built with the “This Is My Squad” (TIMS) initiative and U.S. Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) System. The competition pitted the eight Corps’ Separate squads against each other testing squad cohesion, physicality and lethality.
“Our squad is very physical with a high average Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) score, and we each bring unique strengths to the team,” said Staff Sgt. Vincent Washington, squad leader assigned to 7th Transportation Brigade – Expeditionary, “The competition has been humbling, but we worked through it.”
The competitors began day one with an ACFT, followed by a leader’s reaction obstacle course (LRC). This new event to the competition forced squads to communicate with each other to solve physical obstacles through critical thinking and teamwork.
“The LRC was an absolute team building event teaching you to talk from the bottom to the top; a critical part of ‘This is My Squad’,” said Sgt. Maj. Jason Johnson, G3 Operations Sergeant Major for XVIII Airborne Corps, “A young Soldier might have a better solution to solve a problem than an NCO running the team sometimes.“
Day one concluded with Soldiers completing a range qualification and stress shoot, providing aid to a simulated medical casualty and setting up a patrol base for the night.
In the early hours of day two, the Squads completed a land navigation course. Then each squad was tested on their individual warrior tasks and battle drills such as weapons familiarization and reacting to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) environment before arriving at a final mystery event. The final event challenged the squads to assemble and fire one of three squad weapon systems; the M249 SAW, M4 rifle, and M17 pistol.
The competition also incorporated the Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) system testing each squad on the aspects centered around the total Soldier concept that goes beyond their technical and tactical skill sets.
“The great thing about the H2F program is the ability to help Soldiers recognize what they are already doing and how to get better at it, then excel and exceed," said Susan Goodman, a cognitive performance specialist with H2F Holistic Fitness working with 18th Field Artillery Brigade. "The holistic approach of H2F helps train and optimize our Soldiers to overcome obstacles and challenges."
H2F provides a whole team of strength trainers, athletic trainers, dieticians and cognitive coaches to our Soldiers, Goodman added.
During the awards ceremony, Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, XVIII Airborne Corps deputy commanding general, congratulated the winners and challenged those gathered to continue to train on the Soldier skills overcome throughout the competition.
“As Soldiers, you have to be good at so much and keep those Soldier skills alive,” Mennes said, “Let’s continue to inspire great squads and training like this.”
The training helped all squads who participated to improve and build upon their individual and collective training tasks for the betterment of the Profession of Arms across the Corps.
"This competition really tests and shows how effective our team’s training was," said Pfc. Lizbetd Corrales Aca, squad member assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade, "Even being new to the unit and the squad, my squad leader helped us all to train and feel prepared.”
The 16th Military Police Brigade will move on to the all around XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition being held at Fort Stewart, G.A., this July.