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Train to lead, lead to train

Written by Spc. Michael Vanpool
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

101st Sustainment Brigade - LifelinersFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionBagram Airfield, Afghanistan – Three Soldiers from the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade competed in a soldier and non-commissioned officer of the quarter board here at Bagram.

Aside from a board seated by senior NCOs of the battalion, the competition started with an Army Physical Fitness Test and an eight station test of Warrior Tasks.

“It’s not just about the board,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Katrina Najee, the command sergeant major of the 101st STB. “It’s making sure they’re technically and tactically proficient.”

Spc. Jessica Tosado, a competitor in the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade soldier and non-commissioned officer of the quarter competition of Alpha Company, identifies terrain features on a map as her sponsor, Staff Sgt. Chad Cooper, looks on. (Photo by Spc. Michael Vanpool)
Spc. Jessica Tosado, a competitor in the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade soldier and non-commissioned officer of the quarter competition of Alpha Company, identifies terrain features on a map as her sponsor, Staff Sgt. Chad Cooper, looks on. (Photo by Spc. Michael Vanpool)

The warrior tasks included several scenarios prevalent in Afghanistan, like conducting emergency first aid, interacting with news media, and searching a detainee.

Sgt. Sean Graham, a team leader for the Personal Security Detachment for the 101st STB, was one of the competitors for NCO of the Quarter. He constantly trains on many of the warrior tasks from the competition while attached to the PSD team, which runs convoys and foot patrols through the brigade’s area of operations.

“It keeps us on a common level,” Graham said. “A lot of this stuff we train on all the time to keep our levels up.”

All of the competitors brought their fighting spirit- from the APFT to the Warrior Tasks to the actual board – to prove who could dominate their battle buddy.

“I wanted to go to the board,” said Sgt. James Croghan, team member for the Brigade’s Repair and Upgrade team. “If I compete in something I’m going to give it my all.”

Prior to the battalion level board, the soldiers and NCOs went head to head with other Sustainers in company level boards. For the STB Quarter Board, the final soldiers and NCOs came from Alpha Company and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

“We didn’t have to force anyone of them to come out here,” Najee said, “and they all came with a competitive spirit.”

The final competitors came from units organic to the 101st STB, and have worked side by side with each other, not just during their deployment to Afghanistan, but also back at Fort Campbell, KY.

“They’re going against their own peers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Luis Rivera, the operations section non-commissioned officer in charge for the 101st STB. “It builds esprit de corps due to the fact it’s one team and one fight. It all goes for the same outcome.”

The board allowed the soldiers and NCOs a chance to hone their skills by training and constantly improving themselves as Soldiers and leaders.

“When you’re deployed, it can be mission, mission, mission,” Najee said. “But we still need to educate our junior NCOs because they are our future. The NCO Academy has a saying, ‘Train to lead, lead to train.’ That’s the statement for the NCO of the quarter board, and I’ve very proud of them.”

The final soldiers and NCOs will face a board with Najee and the four first sergeants of the 101st STB, May 18th. The best soldier and NCO will be decided, and will advance to the brigade competition.

“They all strive to be the best, but only one can be the best,” Rivera said. “It’s keeping the warrior instinct alive by giving soldiers a competitive mindset.”

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