TIKRIT, Iraq – Support Soldiers in Special Operations Task Force – North competed in a Special Forces challenge in Tikrit, Iraq, May 27.
The challenge tested the Soldiers in the areas of physical fitness, marksmanship, medical skills, weapons assembly and communications equipment.
“It’s an opportunity here in a combat environment to refocus on the basics,” said Army Lt. Col. David Bolduc, the SOTF-N commander.
The winner of the challenge, Army Spc. Nathan Hevner, an information systems specialist, said he attributes much of his victory to the support he received from his leadership.
“It definitely wasn’t ‘sign up and you are on your own,'” he said.
The first event was a standard Army Physical Fitness Test, which included 2 minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two mile run. However, the event had a twist. The Soldiers performed the event in Army Combat Uniforms, rather than the standard physical fitness uniforms.
Next, the Soldiers ran over two miles with body armor to a firing range and qualified with an M4 carbine and an M9 pistol to prove their proficiency with standard Army weapons. After shooting, the Soldiers had to run back to their compound to begin the next task.
Further testing their skills with weapons, competitors assembled and performed functions checks on an M9 pistol, an M4 carbine, an M240B machine gun and an M249 squad automatic weapon from a pile of scattered weapons parts.
The next lane was a test of the Soldiers’ medical skills, which involved treating wounds, applying tourniquets, applying chest seals, splinting fractures and treating shock. Out of all the events, Hevner said he learned the most from the medical skills portion.
“That was definitely a weak spot for me,” he said. “Now I feel more confident in [my medical skills].”
The final event involved properly setting up and using military communications equipment to request a medical evacuation. Hevner said this event was the easiest for him, since he works with the equipment daily.
Bolduc said the competition was an opportunity for his Soldiers to push themselves and their comrades.
“You have to push yourself beyond the limits that are currently established,” he said. “So you can find out for yourself what you are capable of doing.”