FORT HOOD, Texas – Sweat dripped down the faces of Sgt. Joshua Mubarak and Spc. Mathew Boyle as they ran carrying an injured soldier in a litter. They could feel their hearts pounding as they made their way to the tower. As soon as they got in position another explosion was heard. Mubarak grabbed an M9 and started firing at his target.
This was the fourth event for the 2014 Best Team Competition at Fort Hood.
The 36th Engineer Brigade hosted the Best Team Competition March 20, which is a test of each team’s strength, wit and cohesiveness in several events: a World War II Army physical fitness test, obstacle course, four-mile road march, M9 pistol stress shoot, assembly of an M2 machine gun, filling out a range card, setting up a claymore mine and a night land navigation course.
“All the tasks we chose, except for the M9 stress shoot and World War II physical fitness test, are basic soldier tasks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Ancira Jr., the assistant operations sergeant for 36th Engineer Brigade. “The teams start off with a total of 1,800 points, but the points can be deducted throughout the day. Every event is worth points … and every person within a team is responsible for their equipment, which is also worth points. This is part of the total team concept.”
The first event, a World War II physical fitness test, was very different than the current Army physical fitness test soldiers are accustomed to. The test consisted of pushups (performed with a continuous smooth motion and no stopping), pullups, situps (performed with legs straight), squat thrusts and a 300 yard sprint.
“The World War II physical fitness test is rigorous,” said Staff Sgt. Ricky Montgomery, a launcher section chief with B Battery, 1st Battalion, 21st Filed Artillery Regiment. “The test doesn’t allow a rest period, but you just have to adapt and overcome. That is what my team did today; we came out here and gave it our best effort.”
According to Ancira, reinforcement of esprit de corps is an added benefit of the Best Team Competition.
“This is a great opportunity for individual teams to compete in events like these to build unit cohesion,” said Ancira, a Lubbock, Texas native. “If the brigade chose a group that was already part of the same team within a unit, that builds more camaraderie. A team leader, squad leader, or platoon sergeant in charge of a team is going to know their team’s strength and weaknesses. There are going to be a whole lot of lessons and values learned for that team.”
“Our team is several people from my battery,” said Montgomery. “As a team we are building a lot of camaraderie. It is great for us to come out here and be on the same team because we have that one common goal to achieve greatness and be the best; that is what we are all striving to do.”
Other teams were handpicked from different units within their brigade, but still found team building was important for success in for the competition
“My unit picked one person from every squadron to be part of this team, so I never worked with this group before,” said Cpl. Fidel Marcial, an infantryman with I Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. “I have been working with this team for about a week and a half now. We started doing PT [physical training] together every morning and throughout the day we would train over what we would be doing today. I think we built a pretty good team within our group.”
The event is also a great way for teams to assess their proficiency on basic soldier skills, said Ancira. The teams can go back to their units and let them know how well they did and let the unit know how to improve on training.
“There are a lot of tasks being checked,” said Ancira. “It may be that some team members have not practiced setting up a claymore mines in a while and maybe they never filled out a range card. When they get back to their units they can get together and see who knows about these skills and practice.”
For Montgomery, the best part of these competitions is seeing how much he can push himself and his teammates.
“You have to really push yourself to be the best,” said Montgomery, a Sumter, S.C. native. “You got to have the heart and the intestinal fortitude to push it out to the end. You cannot just give up when it gets hard; you have [to] keep going until you see the finish line. That finish line might be your estimated time of separation or becoming a sergeant major some day. Whatever it is, you just have [to] keep going.”