CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — Noise was their enemy and silence was their ally as soldiers tested during the Excellence in Cavalry competition June 10-12.
The three-day event had soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, running steep hills, calling for simulated artillery fire and using camouflage to blend into the surrounding vegetation, as they tested their proficiency in cavalry scout skills.
“(The purpose is) to evaluate their (basic) skill level reconnaissance tasks and to make sure they have maintained those skills,” said 1st Sgt. Lanny McLaughlin, of Alpha Troop. “It also measures their physical fitness, shooting capabilities and their basic cavalry knowledge.”
On the first day, soldiers from the Phantom Recon squadron took an Army Physical Fitness Test and had to achieve the 90th percentile in each event to qualify for the competition. They also completed a timed land navigation course and performed basic maintenance and function checks of multiple crew-served weapons.
“They were tested on the .50-caliber and 240B machine guns, M4 rifle, 40 mm grenade launcher and the long-range advanced scout surveillance system,” McLaughlin said.
Soldiers started the second day with a four-mile run, which they had to finish in less than 36 minutes.
They also completed dismounted movement techniques, qualified at a M4 rifle range, established a helicopter landing zone and conducted a medevac.
For the final day of the event, soldiers threw on a 35-pound ruck for a 12-mile march, which required completion in less than three hours. That was followed by exercises in calling for simulated artillery fire, tactical vehicle identification, establishing a listening/observation post and a knowledge board.
Spc. Douglas Teed, a cavalry scout, said every event tested his knowledge and physical skills, but he was able to push through each obstacle.
“Physically it’s been challenging, (but) it’s a honor to do it and to be chosen to do it. It’s great training, and it’s good to get back to the roots of a scout,” Teed said. “The goal is to always succeed, that’s what we are going for.”