BROOKINGS, S.D. – The South Dakota Army National Guard’s 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion hosted its first Best Squad Competition Sept. 11, bringing together Soldiers from all the battalion’s associated units for only the second time since the 152nd was established.
The event at Dakota Nature Park also marked the first time the entire battalion trained together since transitioning to a new commander in June.
“Lt. Col. Nathan Moore has taken command and we have plans that this will be an annual training event,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schmidt, senior enlisted leader of the 152nd. “It was very fortunate that Lt. Col. Moore observed the battalion’s first collective training exercise in May with the outgoing commander to get an assessment of what the staff and troops were working toward and to continue that momentum.”
The competition challenges each squad of Soldiers academically, mentally, physically and technically. Tasks included land navigation, setting up a SINCGARS radio, medical first aid on a casualty, call for medical evacuation, weapon familiarization, preparing a range card and preventative maintenance on a vehicle.
“The lanes chosen for this event are squad leader, fire team leader and core-level Soldier tasks,” said Schmidt. “It goes back to readiness. We want to increase readiness and make it relevant rather than randomly picking seven or eight different tasks to evaluate.”
The competition also demonstrated the longstanding relationship between South Dakota State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps and the SDARNG.
“It’s very important we have a good relationship,” said Cadet Tyler Murray of the ROTC program. “We’re helping them out and able to provide personnel and some of our knowledge to run this lane, and the Guard helps us out a lot by getting us equipment and access to assets they have on their side that we don’t.”
The competition provided the seven participating squads with a meaningful experience individually and as a team.
“With the PMCS lane, everyone pretty much knew what they were doing, so we could all accomplish that task collectively,” said Sgt. Daniel Fossum, 730th Area Support Medical Company. “As a team, we were all happy to be here and participate – we all had a good time and learned something, too.”
Participants returned to their units with experience and knowledge to share. The competition also helped identify candidates for the state’s Best Warrior Competition next spring.