Story and photos by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Less than a month ago, 2nd Lt. Theodore Taggart, Sgt. Benjamin Allen, Pfc. Cory Whiton and Pfc. Michael Cavett met for the first time, not knowing that a few weeks later they would find themselves standing in front of their peers, with a trophy in their hands and medals on their chests.
These four Soldiers formed Chaos Team, a fire support team, from the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Their first fire mission — win the “Warhorse” Brigade’s best FiST competition, an event held across Fort Carson to test the ability of more than a dozen FiSTs and 60 Soldiers within the brigade, Aug. 12-16.
“Your fire support teams are your forward observers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Spencer Polwort, brigade fires noncommissioned officer in charge and head evaluator. “They are the eyes of the battlefield. They call in fire, they call in artillery and they keep their Soldiers safe.”
Polwort said several events, from land navigation to a call for fire simulator, tested the teams’ battlefield vision and intelligence, but the events primarily challenged the teams’ ability to work together.
With two lower-ranking Soldiers joining Allen and Taggart, the newly-formed team took the competition as a challenge to prove its abilities as a FiST.
“When the two new Soldiers showed up and we told them the best FiST competition was happening, they studied every night,” said Allen. “They showed what they had in them, and their (determination) dragged us all along.”
Chaos Team separated from the pack not only in points, but in pure physicality. Whiton and Cavett kicked off the competition by placing at the top of the competition’s Army physical fitness test. The team followed up in land navigation, where it finished far ahead of the competition during the six-mile course through the muddy hills and ravines of Fort Carson.
The entire team excelled in an open combatives tournament, specifically designed with mismatches.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link, the overall strength of the team is one of the things we focused on this year,” said Polwort. “There was no weight class here, and there’s no weight class in combat. We had 220-pound guys take on 160-pounds guys.
“Is it fair? Well, we had some smaller guys choke out the big guys,” he said.
Fairness isn’t a word heard often in the forward observer community.
No air-conditioned offices await on the hilltops and mountainsides where the FiSTs set up their observation posts, and no one waits for a FiST team to get in front; it’s assumed they’re already there to provide the eyes for the battlefield.
And all eyes focused on Chaos Team when it stood in front of the 60 other forward observers in the brigade, the “Best FiST” guidon and trophy in hand.
“Once you fire an artillery round, you can’t take it back,” said Polwort. “You have to know, once that command of fire is given, that the round is hitting a safe place away from your Soldiers. To be able to lay down suppressive fire while your brothers in the infantry push forward is game changing.”