IRON RAM: Engineers compete in battalion-level exercise in Kuwait

Soldiers assigned to the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, compete as a team during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday. The 40th BEB hosts Iron Ram annually to test physical fitness and Soldier skills. Photos by Sgt. Thomas X. Crough, U.S. Army Central.

Soldiers assigned to the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, compete as a team during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday. The 40th BEB hosts Iron Ram annually to test physical fitness and Soldier skills. Photos by Sgt. Thomas X. Crough, U.S. Army Central.

By Sgt. Thomas X. Crough, U.S. Army Central:

(El Paso, Texas, Jan. 11, 2018)

KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait – Soldiers assigned to the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, competed in Iron Ram 2018, an annual battalion-level exercise testing physical fitness and proficiency in Soldier skills here Friday.

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 Master Sgt. Martin Pelayo, assigned to the 40th BEB, 2nd BCT, 1st AD.

Spc. Bryan Torresfierro, assigned to the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assembles a Mark 19 grenade launcher during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday. The 40th BEB hosts Iron Ram annually to test physical fitness and Soldier skills.

Pfcs. Lucas Garcia and Ashton Furney and Spc. Kevin Gallegos, all assigned to the 40th BEB, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, work as a team to set up an OE-254 antenna for radio communications during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday.

The World War II-style PT test consisted of pull-ups, squat jumps, push-ups, straight-leg sit-ups and a 300-yard run.

“The training events included disassemble and reassemble of a Mark 19 (and) a machine grenade launcher. We also had the M240B and M249, which are our squad automatic weapons, along with the .50 caliber machine gun. Followed by 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 …” said Sgt. Dustin Calderwood, an Iron Ram competitor, 40th BEB. “The hardest event for our team today was the combat lifesaver event.”

Pfcs. Aaron Tapia and Jesus Chora and Pvt. Laramie Fowler, engineers assigned to the 40th BEB, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, work as a team to get into mission oriented protective posture during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday.

There was also a station testing chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) procedures known as mission oriented protective posture (MOPP).

“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 Staff Sgt. Chasity Welch, a CBRN specialist assigned to 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.”

Pfc. Ashton Furney, assigned to the 40th BEB, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, programs a radio for communications operations during the 2018 Iron Ram competition at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Friday.

All of the participants were volunteers from the 40th BEB from Fort Bliss, which is deployed to Kuwait.

“At the end of the day, the purpose of the events is to increase comradery, competiveness, and just to increase the warrior spirit … It incorporates readiness … and it also maintains proficiency,” Pelayo said.

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.