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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011

Battalion cadre collide in Mailed Foot Challenge

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The theme for 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment’s fourth Mailed Foot Challenge was agile and adaptive team building.

“You can’t get anything done without teamwork,” Sgt. Beatrice Ramirez said after completing the challenge Wednesday.

The event included six tasks for cadre members to execute — with an emphasis on cooperation.

“You just depend on your battle buddies,” said Ramirez, B Company. “We wouldn’t have finished anything had we not worked together. Events like this bring everybody (closer). We see each other in a different light. We all kind of step out of our ranks to work together and get stuff done.”

For the various obstacles, there were multiple paths to success, but the Soldiers were rewarded for “working smarter and not harder,” said Lt. Col. Lance Oskey, battalion commander.

“If they organize themselves well and think through the problem, they’ll be able to accomplish the task with better success than if they just put their head down and tried to bull through it,” he said.

Capt. Ryan Maravilla, operations officer, said the course was designed to reflect common military scenarios.

The stations included a casualty evacuation, the Army Physical Readiness Test, carrying supplies over a vertical wall, transporting 100-plus-pound tires, a ball toss and a paintball conflict with a live enemy, represented by the battalion command sergeant major.

“If they integrate into great teams and they work together, they can defeat me,” Command Sgt. Maj. William Jones said.

The Mailed Foot Challenge gives the cadre “time to decompress” and ideas to implement in basic training, he said.

“We do these type of techniques with them to teach them training,” Jones said. “It’s more innovative training. It’s more captive to their minds — and it makes them think. A thinking Soldier is a deadly Soldier.”

“This is the same type of emotion, the same type of intensity, the same type of scenario-driven training we should be trying to create for the Soldiers,” Oskey said. “We get involved in it and motivated — the same thing happens with the Soldiers.”

Oskey said the competition stressed Comprehensive Soldier Fitness from a physical and mental perspective.

At the end of each station, Soldiers were given a verbal pop quiz to see how closely they had paid attention — such as how many balls and tires were used in the ball toss activity.

“Every Soldier’s a sensor,” Oskey said. “We want Soldiers to be aware of their surroundings, and, in addition to executing the task, be aware of the other things around that task in the mission because those could be important at some point. This reinforces that skill.”

E Company won the competition. The unit’s commander, Capt. Eric McDonald, said his team pushed to win in honor of Staff Sgt. Kevin Tye, who is finishing his last cycle and will PCS later this year.

“I think it’s pretty fun,” Tye said of the event. “It gets you thinking outside the box on how to do some of the events. It’s challenging.”

The concept of adaptability is key for a Soldier, said the drill sergeant, who has deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There’s many things that can change around on a battlefield,” he said. “If you get one specific mission and you go out there, a bunch of different variables may pop up that you’re not expecting. You’re going to have to be able to adapt to them and still accomplish the mission, no matter what you get thrown at you.”

The challenge was the first time the companies worked together. In past events, the cadre members were randomly assigned to different teams.

Tye said he liked winning, but it reflected on the team as a whole.

“I think it shows that the drill sergeants and the other cadre in the company take pride in what they do and they always want to excel in what they do, no matter what it is,” he said. “Whether it be a PT competition or work or inspections, whatever it is, they want to do their best … and they will put forth the effort to do that.”

Photos by Cheryl Rodewig Mailed1: Staff Sgts. Kevin Tye, left, and Greg Brewer, drill sergeants with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment, crouch behind a barrier Wednesday before taking a shot at Command Sgt. Maj. William Jones, who represented the opposition force at the paintball station. E Company won the Mailed Foot Challenge, which was graded for time and accuracy.

Mailed2: Staff Sgts. Raymond Robinson, left, and Justin Griffin, D Company, work together to lift a tire Wednesday. The challenge stressed the concept of team building.

Mailed3: Staff Sgt. Eli Schroeder and Capt. William Hennessy reach down to help fellow Soldiers in A Company surmount a wall obstacle. The obstacle was included in the logistical patrol station, where Soldiers had to carry items from a starting point to the end point on the other side of the wall. At the end point, they had to categorize the supplies based on their function, such as “sustenance” or “medical.”

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