CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan -- Eight thousand miles separated them, but an event with rich cavalry traditions managed to bridge that distance gap for one day at least.
Deployed Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, currently in Afghanistan, along with their spouses back at Fort Hood, conducted a joint spur ride, Oct. 6.
The spur ride consists of a series of tasks that are designed to test the physical and mental fortitude of an individual. The events in Afghanistan kicked off prior to the break of dawn as the
Soldiers embarked on their quest to be inducted into the "Order of the Spur", their reward for successful completion.
Simulated medical evacuation scenarios and a land navigation exercise were just a few of the events that tested both the Soldiers' and spouses' abilities to perform under pressure.
Despite the early morning start, troopers from the 1st ACB were poised to tackle their pending challenge head on.
"There was a great spirit in the air," said Maj. Nate Forrester, commander, Company C, Task Force Lobos, 1st ACB, originally from Marietta, Ga.
Forrester served as a senior spur rider for the event, guiding a small group of Soldiers throughout the duration of the course.
"I knew motivation was going to be a key, and you could tell that the Soldiers didn't lack in that department," said Forrester.
Forrester said the event gave the Soldiers a sense of pride and served as an ode to the storied history of the cavalry.
"Events like these remind us where we came from," he said.
"It's important to take a step back from the day to day mission and garner some perspective on who we are and what it is we're doing out here," he added.
One of the concepts of this spur ride was to randomly select the teams, setting up a scenario in which Soldiers were forced to partner with other Soldiers with whom they did not work with on a daily basis.
The Soldiers adjusted accordingly as the event progressed, added Forrester.
"At each station, I could see that my group was coming together more and more as a team," he said.
Teamwork was the name of the game as well back at Fort Hood, according to Forrester's wife Paige, who took part in the event staged there.
"We had a great team," she said. "It was challenging but the ladies I was with made the event a lot more fun."
"It was great for the spouses to come together and get to know one another," she added.
Paige talked about what she saw as the subtle differences between the spur ride conducted in Afghanistan in comparison to the one held at Fort Hood.
"The spur ride [in Afghanistan] seemed to be a little bit more grueling and intense," she added. "There was a lot more laughing and relaxing going on our end."
While Paige acknowledged the spur ride conducted on the other side of the Atlantic seemed a bit more challenging, she noted that the physical training exercises she endured left her with 'sore muscles that I didn't know existed'.
As for the concept of the joint spur ride, they both agreed it was a success.
"It was definitely a unique concept," said Paige. "We're so far away from eachother, but it was cool to know that we were taking part in the same type of event."
"It brought us closer together…even if it was for just that one day," he added.
Ultimately, the day served as an opportunity for the Soldiers to honor cavalry traditions and for the spouses to get a taste of what it's like to be a Soldier in the United States Army.
"Events like this give the spouses a chance to celebrate Army life," she said.
"I was a proud Army wife before this event, but now after seeing firsthand a small glimpse of what our Soldiers go through, I am even more in awe of what they do."