During a calm September morning, soldiers from Alpha Battery, 26th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, traveled to a grassy meadow at Fort Hood to settle a lingering question.
Who is the top radar section in the battery?
The soldiers have been competing in a weeklong challenge to prove which of the two Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator teams in the battery is at the front of the pack.
The competition was designed to test soldiers’ technical knowledge of the Q-37 target acquisition radar with which they work, as well as their physical abilities and shooting skills.
Sgt. Shawn Hidalgo, a field artillery firefinder radar operator with Alpha Battery, said competition made things fun.
The teams were evaluated based on the time it took to complete an obstacle course, scores from an M-16 rifle qualification range, a written test and technical radar knowledge.
A critical challenge awaited each member of the radar sections: a hands-on quiz on various parts of the Q-37 radar and their functions.
The Q-37 target acquisition radar is used to detect and track an artillery round as it flies through the air.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Soto, a platoon sergeant for Alpha Battery, said this part of the competition was important because of changes to the system.
The hardest part of the competition was the physical challenge that kicked off the contest, said Staff Sgt. Bryan Vickers, section 1 leader.
Going into the last test — where each team was timed on setting up and taking down the radar system — the two sections were tied, each having won two events. In the end, only one team would be crowned the winner.
Radar Section 1, led by Vickers, took top honors after all the points were tallied. Vickers said it felt good to win top radar.
The team won bragging rights, and their names will go on a plaque that hangs in the battery’s headquarters building until next year when the team will have to defend the title.