FORT STEWART, Ga. - It was just cold enough to see your breath mist, and the world was silent with impending activity still yet to happen at the obstacle course here. The silence was already interrupted once with the blaring of reveille and the “Dogface Soldier Song” played out of a multitude of loud speakers, but it quickly fell silent once again in the murky dark of pre-dawn. All of the sudden the silence was broken as a squad of soldiers sprinted in, all with their ruck-sacks on, finishing what was supposed to be a ruck-march but clearly was a ruck-run.
The squad was hard to see as they’ve generated so much heat that they were engulfed in a cloud of steam rising from their persons in the cold dark morning. As soon as they arrived at their stopping point, an event evaluator started yelling at them, telling the squad that one of their soldiers was now "injured." Quickly and with out thinking, the squad fanned out into a circular perimeter around the injured and the combat life saver of the squad in order to provide a “secure” area for the first aid, which needed to take place.
This is how the beginning of the day’s events at the post obstacle course unfolded for Company A, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment “Battle Boars,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, as they completed a squad challenge held here, Jan. 15.
The day’s challenge was a multifaceted one, which consisted of quite a few different tasks. First each squad had to ruck-march approximately 2.5 miles from their headquarters area to the obstacle course. Upon arrival they had to properly evaluate a casualty and perform first aid. After that, they had to navigate the entire obstacle coarse and also properly conduct radio operations as well as properly assemble and disassemble the M249 and M240 machine guns. After finishing all the tasks at the obstacle course, the squad then had to ruck-march back to their headquarters. However before starting on their way back, one of their fellow squad-members was identified as being a notional casualty, and the rest of the squad had to carry the individual and his gear.
The purpose of the event was nearly as varied as the individual obstacles on the course, explained Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Kwek, the acting first sergeant and senior enlisted leader for Company A.
“The event today was designed to build cohesion, esprit de corps and physical fitness within the company,” said Kwek.
The challenge had the added benefit of helping the soldiers prepare for the Expert Infantry Badge competition, slated to take place here this coming spring.
The EIB is awarded to those individuals who prove that they are experts in their profession as infantrymen by completing a rigorous series of tasks designed to separate the experts from the lay infantrymen.
“We also designed the event to put a little stress on them in order to see how they would handle themselves while conducting some of the same tasks they will encounter while trying to earn their EIB,” said Kwek.
Many of the Battle Boars out there seemed up to the task.
Spc. Michael Campbell, a native of Phoenix, and an automatic rifleman for Company A, is just one example of just such readiness.
Although eager to do so, this is the first time and possibly the last time Campbell will get to try for the elusive EIB, as he is planning on getting out of the Army in a few months after completing his contracted enlisted time in service, Campbell explained.
“I ETS in a few months, but I’m still going to go for it,” Campbell said. “I think my three years in the Army has prepared me for it.”
Campbell was pleased with his squad’s performance as well as that of himself during the day’s challenges.
“I did well on the course and enjoyed it … it was great, everybody gave 100 percent and it was a lot of fun,” Campbell said.
Kwek was pleased as well with the entire company’s performance.
“They looked pretty strong out there … it looks like they are eager to learn and want to earn their EIB,” Kwek said.