FORT BRAGG, NC (SFC Shelman Spencer) – Soldiers assigned to 6th Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, took part in the unit’s Command Sergeant Major Challenge on Sept. 18.
Four teams comprised of six members took on the endurance challenge presented by the 6th Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph L. Fancher.
The endurance race started with each team conducting an infiltration parachute jump with combat equipment into St. Mere Drop Zone. Staggered in 30-minute intervals, the time clock didn’t begin until each team reached the assembly area and was ready to move to the first obstacle.
Each team had to navigate obstacles during a long-range movement of approximately 30-kilometers, which is roughly 20-miles. The first obstacle being a rope bridge through a river crossing, then moving on foot to Mott Lake where teams conducted a 700-meter open swim with their equipment in tow, they then transitioned to an inflatable Zodiac boat and paddled to a second location back across the lake.
Once complete, teams had to carry the Zodiac approximately one mile to a drop point and conduct another long-range movement to conduct a downed pilot scenario, where a mannequin strapped to a medical litter had to be carried 500-meters to simulate an injured pilot being moved to safety.
The teams continued to move on foot to their final checkpoint where they were picked up and transported by vehicle to a drop point where they had to make their way to Range 37 for the final events. The final events were weapons firing and a mystery event, which consisted of weapons disassembly, reassembly and functions check of various weapons systems.
The objective behind this challenge was to not only build unit cohesion and esprit de corps but to also check to make sure Soldiers in the unit are maintaining the high standards demanded of special operations Soldiers.
“As Green Berets, or in a Special Forces unit, your country has the expectation that you can do this kind of stuff. Guys come here for three or four year assignments, the groups expect these guys to do it when they return,” said Fancher. “The purpose was to remind everybody that we are Green Berets or we are in an organization that supports the Green Berets and this is what we do for a living.”
An endurance course of this nature tests each individual’s abilities and tests how teams function together. With each event, teams had to work harder together to accomplish the mission.
“We want to build morale and boost esprit de corps of the unit and cadre of 6th Battalion. To instill the want or need to maintain our capabilities,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Hill, instructor and event coordinator.
Each company commander and first sergeant had to participate, the other competitors on the team included both support personnel and Green Berets.
“I’m not a Green Beret, I entered to prove myself as the youngest enlisted Soldier in 6th Battalion and to prove myself to the command, I wanted to prove that I can hang with the top dogs,” said Pfc. Yaphette M. Wright, S1 clerk. “This is the first time I’ve done something of this length. Swimming across Motte Lake was the most challenging part for me.”
To finalize the day’s events, teams moved from the firing range to the unit’s former location to meet with their family members for burgers and hotdogs right off the grill, followed by an awards presentation.
“None of these guys could do what they do without the support of their families. We thought it was a great opportunity to tie an endurance event with the families,” said Fancher. “The family members could come out, show support for their husband and teams, and then end the with cohesion and prizes.”
Alpha Company took first place in the overall competition and earned bragging rights for the next year.