By Army Sgt. Thomas X. Crough
U.S. Army Central
KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait, Jan. 8, 2018 — Soldiers from the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armor Division, competed in Iron Ram 2018, an annual battalion-level exercise testing physical fitness and proficiency in soldier skills, Jan. 5 at Kuwait Naval Base in Kuwait.
Iron Ram consists of a World War II-style physical training test followed by functional training stations focusing on basic soldier skills, which teams of three negotiated as quickly as possible, explained Army Master Sgt. Martin Pelayo, with the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion.
The World War II-style physical training test consisted of pull-ups, squat jumps, pushups, straight-leg sit-ups and a 300-yard run.
“The training events included disassemble and reassemble of a Mark 19, a machine grenade launcher. We also had the M240B and M249, which are our squad automatic weapons, along with the .50-caliber machine gun,” said Army Sgt. Dustin Calderwood, an Iron Ram competitor assigned to the 40th BEB. “[After] that we had a tire-changing station, which we knocked out in less than 20 minutes for two vehicles. Then we went to the OE-254, which is one of our communication antennas that we use on a regular basis … The hardest event for our team today was the combat lifesaver event.”
There was also a station testing soldiers’ ability to don protective gear, known as Mission Oriented Protective Posture, in response to a chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear event.
“We were giving them a scenario … where they had to get into MOPP level two. Then they are presented with an issue that requires them to don their protective mask within nine seconds and conduct immediate decontamination … within one minute and then move on directly into MOPP level four,” said Army Staff Sgt. Chasity Welch, a CBRN specialist with the 40th BEB. “At the end of that scenario, that’s when we go over the mistakes that they’ve made and some of the things that we can improve on to make sure that we are better as a whole and as an individual.”
All of the participants were volunteers from the 40th BEB, which is based at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Training Builds Fundamentals
The events promote teamwork, competiveness, and the the warrior spirit, Pelayo said.
“It [also] incorporates readiness [training] … and it also maintains proficiency,” he added.
Readiness and proficiency were themes stressed by both cadre and participants.
“Making the training fun allows them to retain the fundamentals that they need to have in case of a real-world event,” Welch said.
“I think overall the competition was good … it definitely showed us what we were good at, where we need a little work, and it definitely brought our team together. I feel like the spirit was high throughout the competition,” Calderwood said.