“Warrior Stakes” tests 116th BSTB Soldier skills

Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team compete in the 2nd Annual "Warrior Stakes" competition June 20 at Fort A. P. Hill. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT A. P. HILL, Va. — Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team braved the heat June 20 at Fort A. P. Hill to test their Army Warrior skills in the 2nd Annual “Warrior Stakes” competition. Soldiers were tested in numerous tasks to earn bragging rights for their company in one of the key events during the battalion’s annual training from June 9 to 23.

“The competitive juices have been flowing the past several months,” said Lt. Col. Chris Doss, commander the 116th BSTB. “We have increased the intensity for this year’s event, and the Soldiers have trained harder. We should see better results because of that.”

The event began with an air mobile insertion courtesy of the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224 Aviation Regiment, 91st Troop Command. Then Soldiers executed a number of stations where they demonstrated proficiency in Army Warrior Tasks like map reading, conducting maintenance checks on a Humvee, react to direct and indirect fire and calling for medical evacuation. The final event was a timed road march.

A trio of privates from the Headquarters Company finished in first place. The team was made up of Pfc. Robert M. Tuthill, Pfc. Henry J. Horswell and Pfc. Donald M. Frederickson.

Doss explained with so many different military specialties in a battalion with engineer, military intelligence and signal companies, plus all the different specialties in the headquarters company, it is a challenge to develop an event that tests all Soldiers equally. The competition was designed to test the most basic skills a Soldier needs to be effective on the battlefield, he said.

In addition to the “Warrior Stakes” competition, Soldiers from the STB also conducted individual and crew served weapons qualification in preparation for the convoy live fire exercise. The weapons qualifications and Warrior Task training were part of the battalion’s focus on individual Soldier skills.

“Heading in to AT, we wanted to become better individual Soldiers,” Doss said. “That’s what we based our training around, and we certainly have become better Soldiers during AT.”

Doss said the battalion had specific performance metrics they wanted to meet, and because of “a lot of hard work and detailed planning,” they hit all their marks. They licensed 40 Soldiers on the Humvee and Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, exceeded the goal of 95% individual weapons qualification and MK-19 grenade launcher qualification and trained 62 Soldiers as combat lifesavers.

The battalion staff conducted a Defense Support to Civil Authorities-based scenario Command Post Exercise where they worked through military decision making process to determine appropriate courses of action and best allocation of resources to deal with a notional chlorine gas spill near Fredericksburg.

Not all of the battalion’s Soldiers conducted their annual training at Fort A. P. Hill. The Fort Belvoir-based Company B, the battalion’s military intelligence company, took part in Operation Panther Strike in Utah. The unique training opportunity provided Soldiers the chance to process, analyze and present intelligence gathered from real world activities.

The company also sent Soldiers to the Enhanced Analytical Skills Course at Fort Belvoir where training focused on developing and honing skills to search for and derive data from various sources. Another group of Soldiers honed their skills in capturing and processing imagery at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency training workshop at Fort Belvoir.

Soldiers from the Hampton-based Company C, the battalion’s signal company, provided satellite uplinks for Command Post of the Future systems to establish and maintain a current operations picture of the Fort A. P. Hill training area.  Fort the first time the unit also put into operation the the High Capacity Line of Site antennas providing redundant satellite distribution to units in the field.

Most Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based Company A, the battalion’s engineer company, did not conduct annual training because they recently returned from deployment. But during the middle weekend of annual training, Soldiers from Company A conducted live demolitions training during the drill weekend. The two-day event built on basic skills including modern detonating initiators, and the training will support more complete breaching operations in the future.

“We planned an aggressive and challenging annual training to test our abilities as a battalion,” Doss said. “Seeing it being executed so well makes me proud of our Soldiers.”

View more photos on Flickr:

116th BCT Soldiers compete in “Warrior Stakes”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630221490570/

116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Soldiers practice rappelling
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630226086706/

Soldiers conduct aerial extension
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630222077140/