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    College partnership benefits battalion physical training in Saber Challenge

    Rucksack competition

    Photo By Sgt. Christopher Dennis | Soldiers of 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Christopher Dennis 

    1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

    CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - In lessons learned from semi-pro athletes, university coaches and Army master fitness trainers, Soldiers competed in a series of challenges designed to combine the best of military and collegiate physical training from Feb. 29 to March 4.

    Participating in the first of the “Saber Athlete Warrior Challenges,” Soldiers from the 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, put their training to the test in individual and unit challenges derived from an ongoing partnership with Baylor University.

    “This week we are conducting the first of three Saber Challenges on Camp Hovey, with this first challenge serving as a baseline metric for each Soldier, squad, platoon, and company,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Short, commander of the 91st Engineer Battalion.

    The Saber Challenge consists of competitive events that put Soldiers’ physical training to the test.

    “Our weeklong event is measuring the ‘alactic,’ anaerobic, and aerobic fitness of each Soldier,” said Short. “We designed the event so that it should challenge every Soldier, build competitors, help develop lifelong habits, and enhance esprit de corps.”

    The training uses complex science.

    “Alactic is the energy system the body uses to perform short, yet powerful movements from 15 to about 90 seconds,” said Capt. James Minshew, commander of the Forward Support Company E, 91st Engineer Battalion. “It does not require a lot of oxygen but uses pure ATP and energy store burn. This is why you can hold your breath for 90 or so seconds and still perform all necessary movements.”

    But the window of time is small for alactic exercises.

    “After about 90 seconds the anaerobic system kicks in and takes over, but burns a lot of oxygen, hence your heart rate climbing very high and your respiratory rate increasing dramatically,” said Minshew.

    “Aerobic is for long sustained functions that uses the most oxygen, but isn't meant for powerful movements. It is working nearly all the time which is why if you have a high anaerobic endurance factor, you can go longer in all three areas than someone that trains pure alactic or anaerobic,” he said.

    In preparation for the brigade’s deployment to South Korea, leaders from the 91st Engineer Battalion took part in a two-day seminar in December of last year in Waco, Texas, hosted by the Baylor athletic coaches.

    “The professional development course that we went to was pretty instrumental,” said Maj. Alexander Samms, operations officer for the 91st Engineer Battalion. “We definitely took a lot of the principles they gave us and applied it to our unit here in Korea.”

    The implementation of this program didn’t start overnight; it took time to put the lessons learned from Baylor University into the battalion’s physical readiness training.

    “We started implementing it when we were leaving National Training Center,” said Capt. David Picard, commander of company B, 91st Engineer Battalion.

    The purpose of the Saber Challenge this month is to establish a starting point to gauge the progress of the Soldiers over time.

    “This initial challenge is to test the state of our mental and physical readiness, providing an assessment of individual and unit fitness, and serving as a basis for development and improvement throughout our rotation in Korea,” said Short.

    Later in the year, Saber Soldiers will be tested two more times.

    “The battalion will execute a second challenge in June or July, then a third in September, in order to measure and quantify our gains or losses in performance,” said Short.

    Saber Challenge events consist of three stages that test the Soldier’s body in different ways.

    The first day, Soldiers participate in “alactic” events comprised of a 300 m shuttle run, bench presses, dead lifts, pull-ups, and ankles-to-bar exercises. On the second day, Soldiers compete in anaerobic events, which consist of a rucksack shuttle run and lift, ditch burpees and finishes with a one-mile uphill run to an air-assault obstacle course.

    The last challenge is an aerobic, six-mile platoon foot march with ruck sacks. Soldiers will foot march nine miles in June, and 12 miles in September, said Short.

    The Ironhorse rotation to the Korean Peninsula has also provided Sabers with a unique opportunity to incorporate the new physical fitness routine.

    “Since we got to Korea, it’s provided us with a fresh start, from day one we’ve gotten to introduce these new programs into the Saber Challenge,” said Minshew.

    For Soldiers weary of repetitious Army physical readiness training, the new program motivates some to push themselves harder, and to enjoy training, said Capt. David Picard commander of company B, 91st Engineer Battalion.

    “For morale issues, I think it’s been a breath of fresh air,” said Picard.

    Completing the Saber Challenge is a milestone for some.

    “I feel accomplished because I got through all of it,” said Lopez Isiah an ammunition specialist with Forward Support Company E, 91st Engineer Battalion.

    Participating in the training is beneficial for Soldiers and the battalion, said Minshew.

    “It’s a lifestyle choice - it’s a conscious decision to change your life for the better,” said Minshew. “It’s definitely taken our physical training program to the next level.”



    Date Taken: 03.04.2016
    Date Posted: 03.07.2016 02:22
    Story ID: 191343
    Location: CAMP HOVEY, 41, KR

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