Fort Campbell, KY – The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) held a “Best of the Best ” competition which gave artillerymen the opportunity to represent their batteries in a three-day competition that tests their proficiencies in a variety of tasks. Soldiers trained for weeks with their teams leading up to the competition which started October 19th, 2022 and ended October 20th.
“The Best of the Best competition allows us to compete against our peers to see who really is the best,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Neal, a fire direction center chief with Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
“Implementing the ACFT as a part of the Best of the Best is important as it is implemented for record across the Army,” explained Neal.
The second day started at The Sabalauski Air Assault School’s obstacle course. The Soldiers were split into their teams, and were timed to see how fast each team could complete every obstacle on the course. Cheers of encouragement and excitement could be heard throughout the course as Soldiers cheered on their teammates and rivals alike.
After completing the obstacle course, Soldiers moved to their next event, table V qualification tables. Table V events test a Soldiers’ ability to effectively deploy and use their assigned equipment and weapon systems. Teams of forward observers moved to their designated locations and began deploying the communications equipment they would need to effectively communicate with their gun crew.
The observers were scored on their ability to quickly set up all of their equipment, camouflage their vehicle, and accurately call in a fire mission with the information they were given prior to the event.
“We’ve had a lot of training for the last couple weeks for our qualification tables.” explained Spc. Michael McFarland, who is also assigned to the 3-320th.“We’ve been working really hard and staying late most days to perfect our table V prep.”
Meanwhile, gun crews were busy in the motorpool prepping their Howitzers for movement. They towed their artillery pieces to their designated locations and got to work. Crews had to quickly dismount, and carry out a fire mission.
Soldiers started their final day of the competition with a six mile ruck march. Teams were judged on the average time it took for every Soldier on the team to cross the finish line.
“I feel we’re doing very well, we’ve had a couple hiccups here and there, but we’re passing everything and it lets us see where we are at the individual level,” said Neal. After the ruck, they moved to the final mystery event which tested the FA Soldiers on the various tasks they are expected to be able to complete every day.
After the scores were tallied, it was announced that 3-320th were the winners of the 2022 “Best of the Best” competition.
“These competitions allow you to see your level of skill not only as an individual, but as a gun crew member as well,” said Neil. ”It built a lot of morale and a lot of trust among us as we pushed and motivated one another to complete the challenges we faced during the competition.”