News: 615th ASB soldiers compete in 'Bladeslinger Challenge'
Story by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
FORT HOOD, Texas – Combat readiness. Two words that when maintained uphold the Army as the world’s premier fighting force. For soldiers with B. Company 615th ASB, a competition was held to showcase how truly combat ready the "Bladeslingers" are.
More than 60 Troops with Company B., 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, competed in the first ever “Bladeslinger Challenge” here, April 17.
During the event, "Bladeslingers" were evaluated at several stations in round robin format, including performing preventive maintenance checks and services, evaluating a casualty, establishing a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, interacting with news media, and reacting to contact, all while employing land navigation to travel between stations.
“This is an event that focuses on individual skills that support our company’s mission essential task list,” said Maj. Paul Mitchell, commander for B Company, 615th ASB and Edwardsville, Ill. native. “It also allows us the opportunity to improve upon our warrior tasks and battle drills for as many soldiers as possible.”
While creating the event, Mitchell said he wanted to invent a competition that not only challenged soldiers mentally and physically, but also built esprit de corps in the midst of a grueling, realistic training environment.
“These soldiers are going to be walking more than 11 kilometers with rucksacks,” explained Mitchell. “It’s going to be a little physical, and it’s meant to challenge them mentally as well, but this is also an event designed for soldiers to have fun. We wanted to step away from boring methods and execute training which would bring warrior tasks and drills to life, ultimately allowing soldiers to have fun and enjoy the training while learning.”
Although seven teams competed against each other in the competition, the event was designed to further train and educate Soldiers, including those who needed a refresher during the stations, noted Mitchell.
“This was training as well as a competition,” Mitchell said. “If soldiers were unable to exceed the standard at a particular station, the evaluation switched to training. We wanted the training’s end state to be so that every soldier is proficient in each warrior task and battle drill performed during the competition.”
Spc. Tyler Blumenstock, an Avionic Systems Repairer with B. Company, 615th ASB and Pottstown, Pa. native, competed during the event and said the training helped further prepare him for whenever he embarks on his first deployment.
“This was great, high-speed training,” said Blumenstock. “It was a great opportunity for our unit to come out and challenge ourselves in several different areas. It’s important we have events like this so we can stay constantly prepared to defend our great country when called upon.”
Even though the training pushed soldiers to the max, ‘Bladeslingers’ had a blast while improving upon and learning new tactics, techniques and procedures, Blumenstock said.
“The competition was great, but the camaraderie was even better,” said Blumenstock. “I definitely hope we undergo this challenge again in the future.”