UDAIRI RANGE, Kuwait – After a week of intense training at Udairi Range, Kuwait, soldiers of the “Iron Knights” Battalion, demonstrated their ability to engage enemies with deadly force under pressure, during a stress shoot competition, Sept. 19.
In the week leading up to the competition, soldiers assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted extensive training: enhancing close quarters marksmanship skills and urban assault tactics, reaffirming night fire proficiencies, and developing unit cohesion, during team firing events.
“We accomplished a lot this week,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Harper, infantryman, Company A. “Even the soldiers who have been around for a little while were rusty on some of these procedures, but we got into the swing of things pretty quickly, and saw improvement almost immediately.”
Seasoned veterans coached and encouraged their less experienced comrades throughout the week, building trust and cohesion at the team, squad and platoon level, said Harper.
“I was impressed with the senior specialists who made the extra effort to help the guys in their platoons become better infantrymen,” he said. “That initiative builds confidence, and that is one of the most important parts of what we do. If a soldier is confident in his skills, in his leaders, and in his peers, he can accomplish amazing things as part of an infantry unit.”
Throughout the week long training cycle, the “Archangel” Company soldiers trained, ate and slept at Udairi Range, sequestered from the amenities and comforts of Camp Buehring.
“Staying out here in the field for a whole training rotation keeps the guys’ minds on the mission at hand,” said Capt. Joe Davis, commander, Company A. “Also, when you’re with your platoon and company getting hot, tired and smelly together, it builds camaraderie.”
Davis said building bonds of trust is essential to the success of an infantry company.
“Because we’ve been out here training and living together so closely, my soldiers are more comfortable hearing their buddies firing to the left and right of them,” he said. “The time we spend out here, in the dirt; these are the stories my guys are going to tell when they get back to Fort Carson, and building that teamwork and unit integrity is very important.”
During the culminating live fire competition, Company A soldiers, with 25 rounds of ammunition, raced to eliminate targets at close, medium and far distances, while on the move.
Spc. Dustin Winters, infantryman, Company A, completed the course with the fastest time: 2:25.
Winters attributed his victory to attention to detail throughout the previous week’s training, and excellent coaching from his noncommissioned officer, Sgt. Patrick Tinsley, infantryman, Company A.
“This training has been awesome, and winning this competition just shows how much improvement I, and the rest of the soldiers in the company, have made,” Winters said. “I’m really excited to get back to Camp Buehring though, and take a shower, but I feel great about everything we accomplished this week.”