Sapper Stakes competition helps Soldiers prepare for ‘road to war’
Erin Rogers, Sentinel StaffSoldiers from the 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade spent five straight days getting back to the basics in the Sapper Stakes competition June 25-Friday out at Curry Demolition Range.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
The competition was made up of five different lanes, all with specific purposes for the Soldiers of the 8th Engineers to come out with. The entire battalion participated and was split into 10 teams.
The lanes included a 12-mile ruck march, bridge reconstruction, live demonstration breach of obstacle, emplacing an 11-row obstacle and land navigation.
The main purpose of the operation was to provide a forum for the 8th Engineer Sapper squads to fine tune skills on a limited number of fundamental decisive action and full spectrum operation combat engineer tasks in a competitive environment, while simultaneously serving as a vehicle to train junior leaders on executing troop leading procedures, according to the Sapper Stakes information booklet.
Capt. Richard Olinger, company commander of the 572nd Mobility Augmentation Company, said all of the training events lead up to each other, and they’re all leading up to the battalion’s eventual deployment. The next event in their deployment training is the Engineer Qualifying Tables, taking place in late July.
“This is getting us ready for our future deployments and our missions down range,” Staff Sgt. Kevin Waller, 572nd MAC, said. “It helps us get back to our original, basic engineer tasks that might have been lost over the past nine years.”
Lt. Col Mark Geraldi, 8th Eng. Bn. commander, echoed Waller’s remarks, saying that this competition is ultimately preparing them for their future mission.
“In the end, I’d like to walk away from this with increased confidence and mental agility in our junior leaders, which will set the conditions to execute upcoming Operation Enduring Freedom road-to-war training,” Geraldi said. “I want to have exercised both battalion and company mission command nodes that will also prepare them to execute any upcoming OEF road-to-war training, and for the overall esprit de corps of our battalion to be enhanced.”
Beginning at 5 a.m. June 25, all of the teams participated in the 12-mile ruck march through East Range Road and West Range Road, with each person carrying 35 pounds along with them on the trek.
While the march was done as a battalion, the rest of the lanes were staggered into three-hour stations between the teams. Tuesday’s string of competitions began at 9 a.m. with the obstacle breach, bridge reconstruction, 11-row obstacle and land navigation.
All five days continued to stagger the lanes between the teams, and all teams performed each task only one time.
The competition ended at noon on Friday with team five, compiled of Soldiers from 572nd MAC, taking first place. Second place went to team six, made up of more Soldiers from 572nd MAC, and third place went to team three, 87th Sapper Company.
Geraldi said that there were three main reasons for the Sapper Stakes competition.
“Number one is so that we don’t lose our specific skill sets. Number two is that it forces our leaders and Soldiers to broaden their minds, promoting mental agility,” Geraldi said, “and finally, this is a vehicle for Troop Leading Procedures that are applicable for any Army operation.”