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    ‘Mungadai’ offers 1st Cyber Battalion Soldiers one arduous day of building leadership, team spirit

    ‘Mungadai’ offers 1st Cyber Battalion Soldiers one arduous day of building leadership, team spirit

    Photo By William Roche | Competitors crawl through a flooded mud pit during the 1st Cyber Battalion "mungadai"...... read more read more



    Story by William Roche 

    U.S. Army Cyber Command

    FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Mungadai? What the heck is a mungadai?

    The term is believed to come from a 13th century test of skill and endurance used by Genghis Khan to select the Munga-Dai, his elite Mongolian cavalry forces. For the Soldiers of the 1st Cyber Battalion of the Army Cyber Protection Brigade it signified a recent daylong adventure challenge competition designed to test leadership and build esprit de corps and warrior skills as a team.

    “For us it's about building better teams through shared experiences,” said Lt. Col. Adam Dykstra, the battalion commander, before the start of the competition. “So we're going to give them a busy 24 hours, filled with a lot of excitement, some fun events and some challenging events. And on the tail end of it I think they're going to come out better officers and better (noncommissioned officers)."

    "I think this is a tradition that comes from … the combat arms branches, and I'm trying to stress that cyber Soldiers are no different at the end of the day,” Dykstra said.

    The Soldiers who took on the mungadai would probably put it more plainly, describing it as one very long day of very dirty, very physically and mentally exhausting, very challenging – and very satisfying – fun.
    Just take a look at what the eight teams of five to six lieutenants and sergeants each faced during their 24-straight-hour contest: tug of war, dodge ball, flag football and archery tag competitions; a three-mile, 31-obstacle “Marine Tough Mudder” course through the hills and forests of Fort Gordon’s training areas; an urban land navigation course; an eight-mile equipment carry challenge (lugging filled water cans, 10-pound fitness balls, eggs, sandbags, PVC and steel pipes, a broomstick, and lengths of cord and rolls of tape), and a three-hour cyber skills event that included keyboard and cryptographic challenges – starting around midnight.

    The competition was designed to test participants with reduced rest and food. Each team member received one Meal, Ready to Eat for the duration. But teams could earn additional food rewards or extra points for performing well in each event, and everyone was required to take an enforced four-hour rest period. And there were penalties --- tug of war losers had to crawl through a flooded moody pit; dodge ball losers found themselves doing burpees; and time penalties were meted out for failing to complete obstacles.

    When the smoke (or perhaps mud in this case) cleared, the three lieutenants and three sergeants of “Team Tres” had tugged, run, dodged, toted, crawled, climbed and “cybered” their way to the top of the scoreboard. Though they had no time to prepare – team captain 1st Lt. Taryn Chovan said they only become a team the day of the event -- they quickly pulled together.

    "It feels great,” Chovan said after her team nabbed the winner’s plaque, along with Army Achievement Medals and four-day passes for each member. “It was long, but we had a lot of fun. It was a big test to our fortitude. My team worked really hard, and I think we earned it, and it was a good time doing it."

    Chovan’s Tres-mate, 2nd Lt. Roberto Abeledo, agreed that it was exhausting event, but said it was worth every hour.

    "I’m a little tired, a little sore, but happy that I had a chance to participate in this and build some camaraderie and meet some really cool people and make some new connections,” he said.

    Chovan and Abeledo said the most challenging physical event was the equipment carry.

    “It was late evening time. The sun was going down. We all just wanted to go to sleep, but we had our eight-mile march to do. That was about the hardest part, but we made it," Chovan said.

    At the start, bringing a team together with no preparation was equally tough, Abeledo added.

    "At the beginning, we were all just a set of individuals. So we had to come together quick,” he said. “But once we went through that storming phase we started performing together and killing every single event."
    The only challenge the team created a plan for was the cyber skills portion, Abeledo said.

    “We evaluated everyone's strengths and weaknesses, and we placed people into those positions where we felt they could best serve. So we had some people for the cipher, some were better at network analysis, and then everyone else just supported them. That's how we were able to get through that," he explained.

    Despite the hour, Dykstra said the cyber challenge brought the teams to life.

    "I saw droopy faces go away instantly the second you all jumped on keyboard,” he told the teams during the event’s closing award ceremony. “And that just warmed my heart beyond belief. To see you all getting so pumped up to do what you do on a daily basis, at 2 a.m. … that was incredibly powerful."

    The colonel said the mungadai achieved its goals, bringing teams together to support one another and helping participants to strengthen and grow.

    “The only thing better than 10 independent teams is 10 teams that flock and share, right?”, he told the assembled competitors and other battalion Soldiers who came out to support them and facilitate the mungadai.
    "I'm proud of all of you,” Dykstra said. “I saw some toughness. I hope you can translate the mental toughness you get out of this event into the rest of your life."

    To which an anonymous voice in the crowd responded: “Just another day in the life of a cyber Soldier.”


    ABOUT U.S. ARMY CYBER COMMAND (ARCYBER): U.S. Army Cyber Command integrates and conducts cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare, and information operations, ensuring decision dominance and freedom of action for friendly forces in and through the cyber domain and the information dimension, while denying the same to our adversaries.


    Interested in the challenge of joining the Army Cyber team? Check out military and civilian cyber career and employment opportunities by clicking on the "Careers" tab at



    Date Taken: 10.29.2021
    Date Posted: 10.29.2021 17:31
    Story ID: 408369
    Location: US

    Web Views: 620
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