News: 4th Kandak, Repel Soldiers Brave Sleet, Snow for Combined Action Commander's Cup
Story by Sgt. Daniel Haun
By U.S. Army Spc. Daniel D. Haun
Task Force Bayonet Public Affairs
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Snow and sleet filled the air, as Task Force Repel Soldiers from 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and Combined Action partners from the Afghan national army's 4th Kandak joined forces in the Repel Commander's Cup at Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan's Logar province, March 6.
The partners competed in a timed series of events including a rucksack run, buddy litter carry, M9 familiarization fire and a weapons assembly.
Army Staff Sgt. Kendall Gilbert, the base defense operations noncommissioned officer for the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, imparted a few words of wisdom to competitors before the start.
"It's a team effort, it's a team sport, a team competition ... It's going to be physically challenging; it's going to be mentally taxing. Just make sure you guys pick everybody up, and pick up your teammates," Gilbert said.
Though the competitors were focused, the mood was still light.
"Let's go out here and have a good time, learn something about our coalition partners, and they'll learn something about us. We'll hug and drink chai tea afterwards," Gilbert said with a chuckle.
As the competition began, the words of encouragement volleyed from competitor to competitor.
"Come on, lean into it; you got this. Lets go; you're alright. Push it out. Pick it up. Keep it going. Don't stop, don't lose it. Looking good, your almost there. Bend your knees, center mass, there you go. One more turn. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, come on."
Afterward, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Curtis Johnson, the commander of 173rd BSB, pointed out the importance of those words of encouragement and thanked the Combined Action partners for joining and helping their Repel counterparts.
"To all the ANA participants, what a great performance, I saw you out there in front; you did a great job. I see some familiar faces from the last competition. Again, I'd just like to thank you for a great performance and for all of you do," Johnson said.
Several of the ANA Soldiers commented on some of the difficult tasks and how their training and the weather played a factor into their performance.
Abdul Salam Watandost, a soldier standing from the 4th Kandak, said that the biggest challenge was weapons familiarization.
"We didn't have many problems, we were a little unfamiliar with some of the weapons," said Watandost. "By having training and running every day, every morning, we prepared ourselves before we competed.
Even though Watandost was prepared for this competition, he already making plans for the next one.
"We have to have more training and more competitions, we'll be ready," he said.
ANA Pvt. Sadr-Udin Himat, another Soldier honored from the 4th Kandak, said the experience was a good one, and that the greatest challenge was the inclement weather.
"The problem was that it was raining and snowing, my uniform was drenched," said Himat. "The competition was like a lesson, and we learned many things from it," he said.
Bravo team member Army Pfc. Joseph Machtemes agreed that the weather was the hardest obstacle to overcome.
"The snow made it really hard to shoot, blurring the targets, the sweating, breathing really hard," Machtemes said.
But, in spite of all the obstacles Bravo pushed through.
"We do what bravo does best. We're the muscle of the battalion. We just pushed hard right through and kept going," Machtemes said.
Bravo Company took the cup when all was said and done. Gilbert noted their endurance and exertion.
"Bravo won in the end. They just outlasted the rest of the competition. It's a team effort, so it was a great event," Gilbert said.
Army Spc. Nathaniel Petter, the Bravo team leader, shared Machtemes's sentiment.
"You had to push your team as hard as you possibly could - keep them going all the way through - and make sure your heart was there. Keep driving on; just push all the way through," Petter said.
"Our team kept it going, we drove all the way through ... we kept going through in and through out. The competition was outstanding."