Paratroopers take Best Squad Competition ACFT
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Paratroopers assigned to Charlie Troop, 1-73 Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division take the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) for the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition on Fort Stewart, GA, July 26, 2022. The ACFT was one of several events during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition that tested each competitor’s physical fitness and endurance. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Vincent Levelev) (Photo Credit: Spc. Vincent Levelev) VIEW ORIGINAL
XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition Obstacle Course
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Rodriguez, a member of the 101st Airborne Division’s Best Squad, climbs up a rope during an obstacle course for the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition at Fort Stewart, Georgia, June 27, 2022. During the Best Squad Competition, competitors were tested on a wide range of subjects including land navigation, marksmanship, casualty care, physical fitness, small-unit tactics and endurance. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Elsi Delgado) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Elsi Delgado) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Stewart, GA.- Five teams from across the XVIII Airborne Corps, America’s Contingency Corps, competed in the Best Squad Competition July 26-28, 2022. The squad representing the 101st Airborne Division won the competition and will represent the Corps during the U.S. Army Forces Command’s Best Squad Competition, which will take place at Fort Hood, Texas, in August.

The Best Squad Competition was designed to test the cohesion and proficiency of squads through various challenges to learn which squad was the most highly trained, disciplined and fit.

“The XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition is a really great representation of who we are as America’s Contingency Corps,” said Command Sgt. Maj. T. J. Holland, the senior enlisted advisor of the XVIII Airborne Corps. “This competition really stresses the importance of strong, cohesive teams and demonstrates how they would work together at the point of contact.”

XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition Qualification Range
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Alvarez, a member of the 101st Airborne Division’s Best Squad, familiarizes himself with his M4 Carbine in preparation for the M4 qualification portion of the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition on Fort Stewart, Georgia, July, 26, 2022. The M4 Carbine range was one of several events during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition that tested each competitor’s weapon proficiency and technical expertise. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Duke Edwards, 50th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL
XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s Best Squad identify terrain features and parts of a military map during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition on Fort Stewart, Georgia June 28, 2022. The Best Squad Competition tests squads’ physical, technical and tactical abilities under stress and fatigue to determine which squad from the XVIII Airborne Corps will advance to the Forces Command Best Squad Competition in the coming months. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Anthony Ford) (Photo Credit: Spc. Anthony Ford) VIEW ORIGINAL

U.S. Army Sgt. Garrett Blanchard, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division’s Best Squad, said the competition will push the Soldiers to grow as they compete against each other.

The 3rd ID, known as the “Rock of the Marne” and the “Hammer of the XVIII Airborne Corps,” hosted the competition on Fort Stewart, where the terrain is swampy and forested, and the weather is hot and humid, adding an additional layer to the squads’ challenges.

The squads consisted of five Soldiers: a squad leader, which is a sergeant first class or staff sergeant; a team leader, which is sergeant or corporal; and three squad members in the ranks of specialist or below. The competing squads represented 3rd ID, 10th Mountain Division, 101st Airborne Division, 16th Military Police Brigade, and 82nd Airborne Division.

After being selected by their respective units, the competitors trained for the challenges they would encounter during the competition.

“We worked with H2F (Holistic Health and Fitness) in our unit and made a physical training plan,” said Spc. Robert Culler, an infantryman from Warrenton, Virginia, and a member of the 82nd AD’s Best Squad.

XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Land Navigation
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 16th Military Police Brigade’s Best Squad plot their grid point on a map during the land navigation portion of the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Best Squad Competition at Fort Stewart, Georgia, July 26, 2022. The land navigation event was one of several events during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition that tested each squads’ proficiency in small-unit tactics and technical expertise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jose Escamilla) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Jose Escamilla) VIEW ORIGINAL
XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad ACFT
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Darquiarean Jones, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division’s Best Squad, holds a plank during the Army Combat Fitness Test portion of the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition at Fort Stewart, Georgia, July 26, 2022. The Army Combat Fitness Test was one of several events during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition that tested each competitor's physical fitness and endurance. (U.S. Army photo taken by Pfc. Summer Parish, 50th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Summer Parish) VIEW ORIGINAL

He said his squad practiced their basic marksmanship skills, conducted several foot marches and did strength and endurance training in the morning and afternoon, which allowed them to improve and get acclimated to the heat.

The 101st AD’s Best Squad also prepared to beat the heat. Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Rodriguez, the squad leader for the 101st AD’s Best Squad, said his squad did a lot of rigorous training, especially running with weights, during the hottest parts of the day.

Fort Stewart welcomed the squads with a hearty meal on the evening before the competition began. Throughout the competition, the squad members demonstrated their ability to execute warrior tasks and battle drills, marksmanship, land navigation and various squad missions.

On the first day of events, squads took the Army Combat Fitness Test, completed land navigation, demonstrated their knowledge and professionalism during a board and qualified on their M4 carbines. The second day gave the competitors a wide range of challenges with a ruck march, stress shoot, machine gun qualification, swim challenge, obstacle course and base defense challenge.

“The ruck was an unknown distance, so we didn’t know how to pace ourselves,” said Sgt. Andrew Row, a member of the 101st AD Best Squad. “It was challenging, but we pushed through it and crushed it”

On the morning of the final day, the squads faced events to test their weapon disassembly and reassembly skills, tactical movements as a squad and reaction to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack, then they fired at long distance targets at a sniper range.

Afterwards, the competitors rode UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters to 3rd ID Headquarters to face their final challenge. The squads had to move a pallet of heavy supplies together across 100 yards and complete a task. After the challenge, the competitors moved to Cashe Garden for the awards ceremony.

During the ceremony, Holland congratulated all of the competitors for all their hard work and dedication, and he recognized Spc. Samuel Alvarez, assigned to the 101st AD, for getting a perfect 600 on the ACFT, and Staff Sgt. Drew Beam, the squad leader for the 16th MP squad, for winning the noncommissioned officer board.

For the winning team, victory didn’t come as a shock.

“We have a bunch of studs on our teams, so I’m not surprised we won, but I’m still glad and blessed that we won,” said Alvarez.

Even though only one team won the competition, the challenges displayed the expertise of the squads of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

“These squads are fit, disciplined Soldiers who work together to be lethal and cohesive teams, and they are ready to go and respond to our nation’s needs when called upon,” said Holland.