By Spc. Rommel Forde
1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Scout squads from each battalion in 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, competed in a best scout competition April 4-8, 2019. The competition ran over a five-day span and tested each squad on its knowledge and proficiency on essential scout skills. Each squad’s Soldiers were challenged mentally and physically as they went through each stage, which included events such as an Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), 12-mile ruck march, land navigation, care under fire, vehicle identification and weapon ranges.
The 1st SBCT Best Scout Competition was used to determine which scout squad will represent the brigade against scout squads within the 4th Inf. Div., for a chance to be the representative at the 4th Gainey Cup Best Scout Competition in Fort Benning, Georgia, Wednesday to May 3, 2019.
“The Gainey Cup will undoubtedly test our scouts’ understanding of reconnaissance tasks,” said Lt. Col. David Fulton, commander, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st SBCT. “Our competition ensured we could assess our best scout squads from across the brigade.”
Scout squads from each battalion trained for weeks leading up to the best scout squad competition, as they knew it was not going to be an easy task to come out victorious. The level of fitness and scout knowledge from the Soldiers was exemplified, as the respective winners of each event were closely followed by the other squads.
“We were able to determine not only who had the physical toughness to compete in a grueling event, but also who were tactically and technically skilled and had the fortitude to succeed,” said Fulton. “The fact that the competition remained close until the very end is a testament to the competency of the scouts in our formation. Congratulations to Comanche Troop, and I look forward to remaining competitive as we compete across the 4th Inf. Div. and ultimately the Army.”
The Gainey Cup Best Scout Competition started in 2013 and was named in honor of Retired Command Sgt. Maj. William “Joe” Gainey, who served 33 years as a cavalry scout. The competition, which is held every two years, consists of 24 six-man squads, which include 17 active-duty squads, three from the National Guard, two from Canada, one from the United Kingdom and one from the Netherlands.
“This competition is a great opportunity for my Soldiers and (me) to display the technical and tactical knowledge our job entails,” said Sgt. Anthony Ledezma, squad leader, Comanche Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT. “It is an amazing experience competing to show we are the best scout squad. My squad and I worked very hard leading up to this event and are extremely grateful for this opportunity to represent our squadron and potentially 4ID the end of this month at Fort Benning, Georgia.”
Each scout squad competed in a gauntlet of rigorous events centered on essential reconnaissance and security tactics, techniques and procedures. They pushed through the various terrain and weather challenges each day of the five-day competition.
While the events were demanding, the troops found themselves feeling challenged and left with a rewarding feeling, said Sgt. Austin Lomeli, squad leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT.
“It allowed us to see how proficient we are at our job, while competing against other squads,” he said. “We’ve all gained valuable knowledge and experience that we can take back to our unit, to help better ourselves and battle buddies.”
With little rest and recovery time, one of the lanes required them to perform tasks such as properly assessing, caring for and evacuating a casualty while under fire. Immediately after one lane, the squads swiftly moved to the next where they are tested on how to properly don their mission oriented protective posture gear, which is used by military personnel for toxic environments.
Less than nine hours later, the squads were on the move again, as they tackled a day and night land navigation course, immediately followed by the M240 range where they were graded on their accuracy with the 7.62-caliber machine gun.
“This competition is not easy and as a grader, I see the fatigue these Soldiers are experiencing,” said Sgt. William Prexler, cavalry scout, Battle Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT. “Seeing other scouts from the other battalions in the brigade exercise with such composure, proficiency and grit during such a rigorous event really makes me proud to be a part of the ‘Raider’ Brigade.”
The final event was an APFT, where each squad was graded on the push-up test, sit-up test and 2-mile run respectively. At the end of the APFT, the scores from all of the events were accumulated and the squad with the highest score emerged the winners.
“It has been great competing against the rest of the Raider Brigade,” said Sgt. Walter Solis, team leader, Comanche Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT. “Our team showed commitment and resilience throughout the competition, and we are grateful to be (representatives) next week in the division competition.”
In the end, Ledezma and his squad came out victorious.
“Comanche Troop … did very well in all of the events, and I look forward to supporting them,” said Capt. Ian Emory, Comanche Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT.
The troop will face a team from 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., next week in order to decide who will represent the division in the Gainey Cup Best Scout Competition.