PINEVILLE, La.– A team of four Louisiana National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 415th Military Intelligence Battalion, 139th Regional Support Group, took second place overall and first in the National Guard in the Interrogation Show and Rodeo 23 competition at the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s Intelligence Training Center at Camp Bullis in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 10-14.
The Louisiana team, one of 17 participating in the competition, included Staff Sgt. Cody Gonzales and Spcs. Gabriel Costa, Andrew Gude and Jayson Nitz.
The Interrogation Show and Rodeo 23 is a multicomponent, multi-echelon event created to challenge intelligence Soldiers in a simulated large-scale combat operating environment.
Gonzales, the only LANG member to compete in last year’s event, had to prep his team this year.
“It was definitely harder this year,” said Gonzales. “It forced the team to step up in multiple ways because we did not have that extra set of eyes and ears. Since I had to conduct my own interrogations, the team was limited in the amount of guidance they could receive. Managing four interrogations at once stretched my time management skills to their breaking point.”
Over four days in an austere field environment, the competition tested Soldiers’ human intelligence collection skills. The Soldiers also conducted daily physical events, warrior tasks and weapons qualifications.
“There is no one around to answer questions, so you must have complete trust in yourself and your team,” Gonzales said. “As a Soldier, you must confront your weaknesses and find a way to overcome them. Success rests on your ability to stay flexible and learn quickly.”
The top three teams were the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion from Camp Zama, Japan, first; the 415th, second; and the 2nd Cavalry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas, third.
“I know second place does not sound like an accomplishment to many, but because this is the second year in a row that we placed second, I feel a sense of pride that we were able to maintain consistent performance despite changing our team members,” Gonzales said.
Competitions like this train Soldiers on the skills required for intelligence personnel operating stateside and abroad.
“We do not know what the next conflict will look like,” Gonzales said. “This kind of event offers units an opportunity to test themselves in ways that other training events cannot.
Gonzales and his team received the Army Achievement Medal, a custom belt buckle and priority seating for advanced training for their performance at Camp Bullis.