News: Sledgehammer soldiers shine at Sullivan Cup
Story by Spc. Erik Anderson
FORT BENNING, Ga. – After the dust settled from the first Sullivan Cup tank competition, May 10, at Fort Benning, Ga., four dog-face Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, stood proud as they greeted friends and family following four days of intense competition.
Although they didn’t earn top honors during the Sullivan Cup, the Sledgehammer tankers finished fifth out of 15 of the top crews from across the U.S. Army.
Maintenance ruled during the first day of competition, with crews changing sections of bad track while under the pressure of being timed, doing it right, and being safe.
For the second day crews took to the high-tech simulators at Harmony Church to test their skills on a simulated battlefield both in the tank and on the ground for dismounted operations.
“The simulations play a very big role in the war taking place on the modern battlefield,” said Sgt. William Staneck IV, cadre, Common Driver Trainer, Sullivan Cup. “For instance, in the simulations we have everything from IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices, to civilians to take into consideration. Also there are opposing convoys taking place or moving down the same roads the tanks are moving down, and the drivers and loaders must be aware of all of these.”
Next, the tankers moved to the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex.
“Small arms live fire was first,” explained Pfc. Dylan Robertson, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd HBCT. “The crew had to engage targets while moving forward toward a downed helicopter that simulated having a casualty.”
Days three and four were all about doing what tankers do best, putting steel on targets down range.
“I feel our strongest suit is putting steel on targets, the actual range portion of the competition,” said Sgt. William Friengle, Company D, 2-69 Armor. “We knocked it out of the park.”
The team’s gunnery score was best of the competition, and although they didn’t earn the coveted Sullivan Cup, they did return with something more than gunnery bragging rights.
“Any time that you can get crews or individuals of this caliber together to compete it’s a great thing,” said Robertson. “You’re not only competing, you are learning from your experience.”