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By Sgt. Andre Taylor, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORT HOOD, Texas– The III Armored Corps and Fort Hood’s 89th Military Police Brigade earned the title of III Armored Corps’ “Best Squad” June 25 after multiple days of grueling competition here in the Army’s inaugural challenge.
The III Armored Corps Best Squad Competition 2022 took place on Fort Hood June 21-25, with ten teams from across the country and III Armored Corps vying for the title. Also crowned during the event were the III Armored Corps Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.
Sgt. Joshua Macias, Sabre Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment, from Port Arthur, Texas, was named III Armored Corps Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. This is the second year in a row the 3d Cavalry Regiment took top NCO honors for III Armored Corps.
Spc. Kole Vigilancia, from Holden, Massachusetts and member of the winning squad with the 89th Military Police Brigade, was named III Armored Corps Soldier of the Year.
The squads competed in a variety of challenging events meant to test their mental, physical, and tactical abilities. Situation training lanes consisted of medical treatment and evacuation, communication, reacting to enemy contact, protecting from chemical attacks, a 12-mile road march, weapons qualification, and an Army combat fitness test, to include others. This all took place in 100-degree heat.
“Our squad trained really hard for this event” said Macias, the NCO of the Year from 3d Cavalry Regiment. “So when it came to running the lanes, we were very confident.”
Event organizers from the III Armored Corps operations staff, along with assistance from various units across the installation, designed the competition to induce mental and physical stress in order to wear down the squads and push the Soldiers to their limit. Time limits for each event made tasks difficult even for the most skilled Soldiers.
“I think when you’re in an environment where you’re being tested and you’re being stressed and being pushed to certain mental and physical limits, it’s really easy to be selfish and forget about your team” Macias said. “So for me personally that was the biggest challenge; making sure that I remembered my role, my position, and my responsibility to the guys in my squad.”
With the temperatures above 100 degrees each day, event organizers had a variety of safety and risk mitigation measure in place, to include medics at each lane, cooling stations, and adhering to appropriate work/rest cycles.
“Both the team leader and the squad leader should be looking after their Soldiers constantly,” said Sgt. Maj. John Kaczor during the competition about additional safety measures. As the III Armored Corps G3 current operations sergeant major, Kaczor worked to ensure the competition ran smoothly and safely. “The leaders had constant fellowship, mentorship, development, and just constantly looking at training to better their squad.”
The competition gave Soldiers valuable insight on how to better themselves as leaders, Kaczor said.
“It was great to see young leaders pushing themselves, actually seeing them become better, because you really only see a true leader when they’re struggling,” Kaczor said. “When you’re hungry, when you are tired, you don’t really know what’s going on, but we saw a lot of tough young leaders getting better.”
The best part about the entire competition, according to one of the winners, was going through the event with his team.
“Honestly just being in the field with the team,” was the best part, said Vigilancia, the Soldier of the Year with the 89th MP Brigade. “Having to set up our bivouac, having to acclimate to the weather, as well carry out our tasks that we were assigned to complete, that was the biggest challenge.”
With the III Armored Corps competition wrapped up, the team from the 89th MP Brigade will go on to compete at the U.S. Army Forces Command Best Squad Competition, which will take place on Fort Hood in August. At that competition, the 89th MPs will compete with squads from around the world for the chance to compete at the U.S. Army level.
For more imagery of the event, please visit the III Armored Corps Best Squad Competition page at https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/IIIACBestSquad