By Spc. Melissa ChurchApril 29, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Soldiers in 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment competed against each other in their first squadron-sized, Iron Titan Physical Training Competition here April 23.
According to Capt. Kamil Sztalkoper, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop commander, this is the first time 365 Soldiers in the squadron have competed against each other. Normally, the competition is held at the platoon level, which ranges from 15-20 Soldiers.
"Iron Titan has been occurring for several years, and every competition has different events," Sztalkoper said. "When you involve everyone, it allows every platoon to build teamwork and be able to compete against other platoons."
The goal of the competition was not just to see who won; it also was to build teamwork and confidence in fellow Soldiers.
"This is an event to foster esprit de corps and camaraderie, and it creates an event that promotes friendly competition," Sztalkoper said.
The competition began early in the morning at Sexton Field, where six teams of Soldiers were taken by a Chinook helicopter and air-assaulted to their first destination.
"This kind of training gives us real-world training," said Sgt. Jon Steiner, a human resource specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3-71 Cavalry.
Upon landing, Soldiers were required to complete a 1.75-kilometer stretcher carry with a fellow Soldier acting as a casualty. This involved exiting the Chinook and immediately moving as a group to a safe location, assembling a stretcher and moving quickly to checkpoint one.
"This tests the platoons' integrity and stamina, having to move such a long distance with a casualty," Sztalkoper said.
Upon arriving at checkpoint one, teams embarked on a 4- to 5-kilometer "evade and escape patrol" through the woods. The goal of the patrol was to get to the obstacle course in less than two hours and avoid being detected by three simulated enemy observation posts.
Points were given to each team based on the timeliness of their arrival to the obstacle course and their ability to maneuver through the woods without being detected by enemy observation towers.
Teams were then graded on their ability to complete five obstacles. The more Soldiers from each team to complete each obstacle, the more points the team received. Obstacles included a confidence tower, a confidence climb and others created to build confidence and teamwork.
"I got a good workout, and the obstacle course will build on my skills for confidence," Steiner said.
Whether a platoon won or lost, Soldiers had an opportunity to participate in good team-building activities and accomplish the mission together.
"All the Soldiers in my team did really well and were able to stay together and finish as a whole," Steiner said.
The wining team, 2nd Platoon, C Troop, 3-71 Cavalry, received an Iron Titan trophy and the honor of planning the next PT competition. No matter what it is, the goal will be to create an amazing way to build confidence, camaraderie and physical strength for the squadron's next deployment.