Written by Spc. Shawn Denham
PAO, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Fort Campbell, KY – Physical training is one of the cornerstones of the Army and its day-to-day activities. Every aspect of performance contains the basic principles of good physical conditioning and capabilities. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), holds a monthly combat focused competition for the brigade’s Soldiers and Leaders with the Strike Iron Competition.
Each of Strike’s battalions go head to head with one and other and the brigade staff officers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, won the latest Iron Strike Competition held at Strike and Johnson Field, October 20th.The competition began at Johnson Field along Fort Campbell’s Tennessee Avenue and consisted of sit-ups and pushups. The competitors then put on full combat gear; body armor, helmet and a water source, and flipped tires across the open field then sprinted to Strike Field, where they dragged a weighted medical litter and hit tires with sledgehammers, called pembricks.
After that, they threw medicine balls to each other leading to the teams carrying weighted assault packs, running around Strike Field twice. At the final section, the teams climbed walls, conducted pull-ups, swung across monkey bars, climbed ropes and tossed ropes, called ‘ropes gone wild’. At the finish, the team with the least amount of time won the competition.
The officer team had bested the Soldier teams and was awarded a 4-day pass, certificate of achievement and a brigade challenge coin. This was the first time staff officers had participated in the monthly competition.
“We’ve set the standard for the brigade now,” said Capt. Graham Rainey, a British Army exchange officer from the Royal Irish Regiment, chief of current operations and native of Bangor County Down, North Ireland. “This is a platform for staff officers to compete and perform and show what we’re capable of. We did pretty well out there today and other teams in the future have something to work for.”
The team of four officers attended the September competition as spectators to familiarize themselves with the course and develop a plan of action, said Rainey.
“We trained for about a month after watching the last competition,” said Maj. Ryan Kort, brigade planner and native of St. Petersburg, FL. “We tailored our training to what we saw the last group of Soldiers do. We knew it was going to be tough, so we looked at strategies to save time and rehearsed our plan.”
The temperature was much lower during this competition compared to the last one, said Capt. Travis Stutes, a brigade planner and native of Crowley, LA.
“The cold weather really added to the difficulty,” Stutes said. “This tested us physically, made it hard to get started. But when you run a bit you start to get warm; by the time we hit the pembricks the cold wasn’t too big of a deal anymore.”
Despite the challenges and cold weather conditions, the officers outperformed the other teams and proved their abilities.
“There is a perception that staff officers don’t do [physical training] and hide a lot,” said Capt. Paul Rhodes, provost marshal and native of Cincinnati, Ohio. “That’s not the case; Regardless of the position, everyone is in the fight. We want to get out and be seen doing PT.”
With another Iron Strike Competition complete, 2nd BCT adds another set of names to its history. Since the program started several years ago, every winning team has had its name added to plaques in Strike Academy, the training center for Soldiers new to the brigade. Next month brings new teams and perhaps new champions.