The sound of grunts and groans, cheering comrades and counting graders filled the obstacle course area outside the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Headquarters as Soldiers competed to see what team in the company is the best at their job skills is as infantrymen.
The Soldiers of C Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, were motivating each other to stay strong during a special test of physical and mental strength that incorporated parts of the Ranger Physical Assessment Test.
This eleven event test included push-ups, sit-ups, rope climbing, buddy carries and running, all the while wearing their full combat equipment load.
"Besides the push-ups and sit-ups, everything else is in full kit, including two, one-mile runs. We added more events to the RPAT to make it a competition. It is a timed event and which ever squad finishes all the events fastest is the winner," said Sgt. 1st Class Valentin Vildosola, C Co., 1-17 platoon sergeant. "These guys love to compete and they all want to be the best, so this is one way for them to assess where they are in their skills and also what team is the best."
For many of the Soldiers of this battalion, this type of training is why they wanted to become an infantry Soldier. The training will help them gain the trust and confidence in themselves and their fellow Soldiers.
"This is what it is all about, yeah they are smoked but this is physically and mentally draining. Once they start and they are motivating each other and they know that they can count on that guy on their right and left," said 1st Sgt. Bryan Wells. "This is what we are building up to, that confidence in each other and it will just excel when we move downrange."
Beyond the opportunity to be motivated by competition, this gives teams an opporturtunty to bond and develop true teamwork through this test.
"For teams out here this will be their 'go to war' squad. So whether it is today, next month or when we are in Afghanistan this will be who they are eating with and patrolling with, this is a way to build more team cohesion," said Wells. "This also allows them to see where each person is physically, mentally and to find out who that guy is who is the weak link, so they can concentrate on getting everyone on the same sheet of music."
Despite the hard work and challenges, most of the Soldiers enjoyed spending the morning pushing themselves to their limits.
"I had a lot of fun today. This type of training is good, gives us a little competition at the skills we are supposed to be good at as infantrymen," said Pvt. Samuel Gable, of Fulton, Mississippi. "It was tough today, but going against everyone in the company made it much more competitive. As a squad I believe everybody became closer by working together rather than as an individual like during a normal PT [Physical Training] test."