Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tested their limits during the fifth Garryowen Games held July 22-26.
The two-part competition consisted of a road march followed by a series of physically demanding exercises with intervals of target engagement. Each company participated on a different day and was broken down into teams by section.
The Garryowen Games were designed to build esprit de corps, said 1st Lt. Matthew Whitehouse, an armor officer with Garryowen who coordinated the competition.
Participants had two hours to march 7½ miles to the range, where the rest of the competition took place.
The simulation began with soldiers running the length of the range, about 200 meters, and then firing at red and blue targets.
Between firing intervals, competitors flipped large tires, dragged teammates on litters and conducted various physical exercises.
At the last firing interval, participants donned their protective gas masks and engaged targets from the kneeling firing position. To complete the iteration, the teams ran to the base of the tower.
Whitehouse said the competition gives the commander, team leaders and section sergeants the ability to gauge the mental toughness and lethality of their troops.
Sgt. Edward Lamy, a cavalry scout with the squadron, said he believes competitions like this give motivation and discipline to soldiers.
“I thought it would be (easier) but this was a lot more challenging than I expected,” Lamy said.
The competition gave smaller units a chance to bond and soldiers the opportunity to see where they could help their comrades in areas that may need improvement, said 2nd Lt. Jeremiah Cioffi, an intelligence officer with the squadron.
If smaller units are strong, it strengthens the whole platoon, Cioffi added. Thus the whole troop and squadron are stronger as a result.
“When we’re out there doing missions, people are more confident in their peers,” Cioffi said. “They know their strengths and weaknesses. (Soldiers) know where they have to step up when the other person just can’t do it.”
Because participants were not told about the events in detail before the competition, Cioffi compared the Garryowen Games to the saying, “the fog of war.”
“It’s the idea that there’s an uncertainty that comes with war,” Cioffi said. “You don’t really know what’s going to happen next.”
Although there was uncertainty, Cioffi said his team was highly motivated and went into the competition with a positive attitude.
Lamy said he has never fired a weapon while wearing a protective gas mask, and had to adjust his rifle position in order to shoot properly.
“That was a good learning experience for me,” he said.
“My guys keep giving me trouble for saying that it was fun,” Cioffi said.
He said a set physical training schedule can be monotonous, so when soldiers are given the opportunity to mix things up, morale improves.
“Even if people know the events are going to be difficult, just the fact that it’s something different motivates people,” Cioffi said.