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Tank crew from Fort Hood, Texas, leading Sullivan Cup competition at Fort Benning

Going into the third day of competition for the Sullivan Cup at Fort Benning, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Hood, Texas, was leading the event on Wednesday.

The four-man team was followed by the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team in second place and the Fort Benning-based 194th Armored Brigade in third place. The winner of the competition will be announced Thursday during an awards program at the Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex in the northeast section of the post.

Brig. Gen.Thomas James, commander of the U.S. Armor School, said the competition is aimed at selecting the best tank crew in the  entire Army.

“Here at Fort Benning as part of the Armor School, our motto is forge the thunderbolt,” James said. “Thunderbolt means we take young soldiers that come into the armor force and when they leave Fort Benning, they become the top tankers in the world. This particular competition goes across the entire Army.”

Over the last three days, the skills of 15 teams have been tested in maintenance, driving, gunnery and marksmanship abilities with the tank. The event also challenges fitness and basic soldier skills.

At the range complex, soldiers were graded on how to deal with an improvised explosive devise or IED while fighting enemy forces and protecting the general population. To complete the exercise, soldiers must leave the tank and confront the enemy on foot.

“This competition is about the next fight,” James said. “We aren’t living in the past and living in the current. We are looking out beyond 2020 and what it’s going to look like. That is what we are developing and inspiring our crews for.”

Even before entering the range complex, soldiers get a glimpse of armor from the past. A World War II era tank and a tracked vehicle are positioned one each side of the entrance gate. Nearby is a big Sullivan Cup banner.