By Staff Sgt. Scott J. Evans
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers with 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, competed in the annual Department of the Army-level Philip A. Connelly Competition at the Fort Carson range area, receiving their final evaluation Feb. 6, 2019.
The contest is used to measure a unit’s ability to provide top-notch tactical field feeding operations.
The exercise also involves logistics and security aspects where the team must not only sustain itself, but also be able to deliver food to units that are not collocated at the actual cooking site.
“The competition includes the cooks executing their area of expertise with meal preparation and execution within regulation for the meals that are evaluated,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Kariker, executive officer, Echo Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd IBCT. “The other aspect is command focus, and the amount of support that we have received from the brigade and the division have been helpful.”
Planning for the event began in April, and they have participated in numerous other competitions prior to this exercise.
“This team competed for the division, Forces Command and III Corps, and this is the final step of getting that validation for the Department of the Army,” said Staff Sgt. Curtis W. McFarland Jr., advanced culinary NCO and the NCO in charge for the competition assigned to Hazard Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd IBCT. “So if we are successful we will have to overcome some stiff competition.”
The winners of the competition will be determined in April 2019, and that team will be invited to American Culinary Federation Headquarters in Chicago to receive the Philip A. Connelly Award this summer.
“You need to have all your paperwork set up and squared away, and it’s your traditional meal request,” McFarland pointed out. “It’s all of your maintenance packet, it’s your production schedules, which is basically the menu that lets the Soldiers know what to make and what temperatures the food needs to be at, range cards for guard positions, but the biggest thing that they worry about is sanitation.”
Setting up tents for operations in the field during the unpredictable Colorado winter with its ever-changing weather patterns can be challenging, but establishing internal structure in order to be successful in the competition with Soldiers from different units can provide certain difficulties as well.
“One of the biggest challenges that, at the same time kind of helps us out, too, is not having the Connelly team pulled from one forward support company,” Kariker stated. “You don’t initially have that internal task organization with squad leaders, but once we recognized it as an area of improvement … it straightened itself out.”
The experience was rewarding for the team, and was a solid learning experience.
“This level of competition is pretty intense, so dealing with it is a whole different level of stress, but once we finish the competition and hopefully win, it’ll definitely be worth it,” McFarland said.
Following the evaluation, the culinary staff said it was impressed with what it had seen.
“The team from Forward Support Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, did an outstanding job preparing for and executing the (Department of the Army-) level Philip A. Connelly Field Competition,” said Sgt. Maj. Ken Fauska, the 4th Inf. Div. chief culinary management sergeant major. “I am extremely proud of the team and know they will continue to strive for excellence.”