By Spc. Kim Browne, 1st Cav. Div. PAOJune 28, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - A Soldier's ultimate responsibility, regardless of his or her job, is to be an infantryman. These pivotal skills are what allow them to perform all mission requirements regardless of the situation in which placed.
To hone these skills, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division participated in the 1st BCT Iron Warrior Stakes competition, June 21-25, on Fort Hood training areas.
The Iron Warrior Stakes competition was set up to resemble the Expert Infantryman Badge test. This test included tasks such as communicating on a radio to maintaining several weapons systems.
For a Soldier to earn his EIB, he requires an 11 or 18 series military occupational specialty. However, leaders from 1st BCT wanted all Soldiers in the brigade to participate in the training and competition.
"We took the training straight from the EIB manual," said Lt. Col. Robert Rodriguez, commander of 2-8 Cav.
The first task was to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test. From there they went on to receive either a "go" or "no-go" on several tasks spread out over three lanes.
One lane was the traffic control point lane that consisted of tasks such as loading, correcting a malfunction, unloading and clearing a M240B machine gun. They also had to call in reports over a radio and perform first aid.
Another lane was the patrol lane, which included tasks like moving under direct fire, engaging targets with a hand grenade and identifying terrain features on a map.
The final lane or the urban lane had soldiers searching detainees, preventing and control shock, and calling for a medical evacuation.
The last portion of the training was a 12 mile road march. Each soldier had three hours to complete the march carrying at least 35 pounds in their ruck sack.
"This competition is just like the EIB test without the EIB instructors," said 1st Lt. Scott Hall, native to Bradenton, Fla.
The competition was a part of the battalion's redeployment reset training and was designed by leadership to bring out the best in their Soldiers.
Sgt. Michael Williamson, from Birmingham, Ala. and Sgt. Chris Williamson, of Saint Louis, Mo., both tank gunners, said this is great training for new Soldiers and it's a nice refresher for older ones.
The battalion's Soldiers were not able to earn an EIB for completing all tasks and lanes with a "go" since the test itself has many guidelines to be achieved before even being allowed. However, Soldiers were given challenge coins and awards for recognition of their accomplishment.
"I would like to see a non-infantry Soldier standing in front of my formation upon conclusion of this training, but I will still be proud even if not," Rodriguez said.
The training concluded early, June 25, with several Soldiers finishing the 12 mile road march in under the three hour requirement. Rodriguez stood by the finish line waiting for these Soldiers with a challenge coin in-hand for them.
Spc. Jeffrey Miller, from Standish, Mich., a forward observer, made the march with three minutes to spare. He said he was very worn out but had received a lot of experience out of the training. When asked if he was ready to do it again, he said, "Maybe next year."
Soldiers from the battalion not only competed in the competition but they had constructed the lanes for the brigade.
Rodriguez said that at little to no cost to the battalion or brigade, his Soldiers took available resources and their imagination and creativity to make these lanes very realistic.
Ultimately, this competition offered a true infantry experience and training to all MOS's, male and female Soldiers alike, throughout the battalion. It also allowed for the battalion to accomplish its redeployment reset and prepare its Soldiers for further endeavors within the Cav.