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101st conducts Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition

 

Written by Sgt. Alan Graziano
3rd Brigade Combat Team

Fort Campbell, KYFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell's Week of the EaglesNearly 120 Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division participated in the 2012 Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition here August 14th to provide the Soldiers a challenging and realistic assessment of their marksmanship skills and provide scores toward the Commander’s Cup.

Out of the seven units that competed, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team “Strike” won first place overall, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans” won second place and the 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne” won third place. The scoring system for all of the events provided each team one point per hit on target and deducted one point per safety violation and for every 30 seconds of the timed movements between firing orders. The winner was determined by the total hit count remaining after all deductions.

One of the winners of the Long-distance Stress Shoot and also from the winning unit, Staff Sgt. Victor Faggiano, a platoon sergeant from C Company, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, talked about the necessity of the Marksmanship Competition for the Week of the Eagles.

“I think the stress-shooting, the road-marching, the Toughest Air Assault Soldier- all of the shooting events are all the most important because it showcases the division’s capabilities,” Faggiano said. “I think that’s what’s really important about it is that it tests all the brigades as a whole to see where everyone’s at, and it’s good cross-training. I was talking to other 3rd Brigade guys and 1st Brigade guys about how they train and getting tips from them. It linked us up with our sister battalions really well. I made a lot of great contacts from the other scout platoon sergeants and came up with a lot of good training ideas and they’re going to help train us up, so it’s a good way to improve training and see where you’re at in comparison to others in the division.”

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division compete in the 2012 Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition on Aug. 14.  (Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division compete in the 2012 Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition on Aug. 14. (Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)

The competition was separated into four events: the Three Weapon Combat Stress Shoot, the Long-Range Combat Stress Shoot, the M-240B Combat Stress Shoot and the Squad Battle Position. Competitors for each event were selected by the brigades of the 101st Airborne Division. All events were team based with four to eight Soldiers from each unit participating in each event, depending on the specific event’s requirements.

All events of the competition required the teams to complete timed long-distance movements and other physical activities, such as obstacle courses and carrying dummies on litters, before and after each firing order while wearing their protective combat gear and carrying weapons. The purpose of these grueling physical activities was to create and maintain a feeling of stress throughout the fast-paced event, which makes it more difficult to fire accurately.

The non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the Three Gun Stress Shoot event, Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Morton, a platoon sergeant from C Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, talked about the reason for adding this stress to the competition.

“It’s important because the physical stress that we induce is similar to, if not the same, as the physical stress that you’re going to have in combat,” Morton said. “You’re going to be wearing a lot of equipment, you’re going to be moving quickly, you’re going to be carrying weight, you’re going to be breathing hard and you’re going to be flustered. It’s an important part of combat marksmanship to learn how to calm yourself down, slow down and control your breathing even when you’re being stressed physically because that’s how it happens in combat.”

The first event of the competition was the Three Weapon Combat Stress Shoot. The three weapons were the M-9 pistol, the M-4 carbine assault rifle and the M-249 squad automatic weapon. Before and after firing each weapon system, the competitors were required to complete timed movements as a team while wearing all proper protective equipment and carrying their M-9 and M-4. The total distance that each team traveled during the event was approximately 1.5 miles with the last one mile involving the carrying a 185-pound simulated casualty on a litter.

A U.S. Army sniper takes a shot at a target downrange

A U.S. Army sniper takes a shot at a target downrange

The second event of the competition was the Long-Range/Sniper Combat Stress Shoot. Each team started the event with a timed movement of approximately 1,100 meters from the starting point to the designated firing range with gear and weapons while looking out for KIMs (objects to keep in mind, such as improvised explosive devices) along the way. Upon reaching the firing range, they ran up several flights of stairs until they reached the firing platform. They then had to locate and engage 10 targets ranging from a distance of 200 to 860 meters, run down the stairs, complete a timed movement and run back up the stairs. This time, the spotters engaged the targets and then each team finished the event with another timed movement.

One part of the long-range event that caused some difficulty for some competitors was that when they missed a target, they only had a ten second window to re-engage.

“A difficult part is, I would say, if you had a couple of misses on far targets – like at the 800’s – the ten seconds to adjust,” Faggiano said. “I hadn’t been trained too much doing that so being the spotter and communicating with the shooter where to hold off, what the wind call is, I thought that was tough.”

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division compete in the 2012 Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition on Aug. 14. (Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division compete in the 2012 Week of the Eagles Marksmanship Competition on Aug. 14. (Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)

The third event was the M-240B Combat Stress Shoot. It started with the teams disassembling and reassembling their M-240B machine guns, completing a timed movement while carrying the simulated casualty on a litter and an obstacle course. From there, they moved to the firing range and they had seven minutes to engage their targets.

The fourth event was the Squad Battle Position, which consisted of eight Soldiers per squad. Each squad began with a timed dismounted movement from the start point to a pickup site, where they were redirected to reinforce an existing defensive perimeter that was under attack. Upon reaching the defensive perimeter, the squad leader had to designate a battle position for the squad and assigned sectors of fire to his subordinate Soldiers while they directed suppressive fire on the targets. The squads were given 15 minutes to occupy the battle position and hit all targets.

After all events of the competition were completed, an award ceremony was held. The top three winners of each event earned medals, which were awarded by Command Sgt. Maj. Alonzo J. Smith, the command sergeant major of the 101st Airborne Division.

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