KUWAIT 10.07.2020 –
ARIFJAN, Kuwait – On a sand blown range in the United States Central Command area of responsibility, Soldiers from Task Force Spartan gathered to compete and test their marksmanship skills.
“Today we have the Task Force Spartan small arms marksmanship competition,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Max Kraus, the range officer in charge. “We have Soldiers competing from the major subordinate commands under Task Force Spartan.”
Units sent their shooters from across the CENTCOM AOR to compete in the course.
“We have competitors from the 2-1 ABCT (Armored Brigade Combat Team), 75th FAB (Field Artillery Brigade), Task Force Hellhound, the Theater Engineer Brigade, and the 42nd HHBN (Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion),” said Klaus. “This is a capstone event for all the major subordinate commands, allowing them to represent themselves with their best competitors.”
For this competition, Soldiers shoot two different weapons systems while wading through soft sand.
“Soldiers will be shooting the Berretta M9 pistol and the M4 Carbine at a variety of known distances,” said Kraus. “For this competition for the M4, we are using only iron sights. Soldiers are really using and reaching back to those level 10 fundamentals.”
“Soldiers will shoot with the M4 from 400 meters, then at the sound of the whistle will bound up to the next firing position,” added Sgt. 1st Class Michael Trask, the range’s non commissioned officer in charge. “Soldiers will shoot prone supported, unsupported, kneeling and standing. There is also a time limit that Soldiers must shoot inside and bound to their next firing position.”
This course also forces Soldiers to shoot and then run 100 meters, elevating their heart rate and causing fatigue.
“This was a challenging course,” said Staff Sgt. John Dustman, a competitor in the event. “You don’t realize how hard it is until you’re halfway through.”
Adding to the challenge, Soldiers were loaded down with all their assigned protective equipment, including their Army Combat Helmets and body armor with ballistic plates, exceeding 30 pounds.
“So, with any range, safety is paramount, making sure all competitors take all commands from the tower,” said Kraus. “We have three OICs and RSO on the range at all times. Throughout the competition, we maintained safety to the standard that was expected of us.”
As with most competitions, a winner emerged from the pack to claim victory.
“Sgt. Chatfield was the winner of the first annual Task Force Spartan Small Arms Marksmanship Competition,” announced 1st Lt. Thomas Harris, during the award ceremony. “For this achievement, he is receiving a Task Force Spartan T-shirt, a Task Force Spartan hat, a 42nd Infantry Division coin, a Certificate of Achievement, and the Army Achievement Medal.”
“I placed first out of 36 Soldiers. It feels really good,” said Sgt. Matthew Chatfield, the competitions winner from the 16th Theater Engineer Brigade. “I was selected out of my company and that is an honor just in itself.”
During the awards ceremony, the Task Force Spartan Command Team had some parting words.
“First of all, congratulations to all of you,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Corey Cush, Task Force Spartans senior enlisted leader. “There’s a saying. Steel sharpens steel and what I see out here is the best shooters from each of their formations.”
“To all the participants, I hope this was a challenge for you,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Ferrari, the Commanding General of Task Force Spartan, who oversaw the awards ceremony and the competition. “I think this is a great idea and hopefully, you honed your skills.”
This competition, while it acts as a fun opportunity for Soldiers, also has real-world implications.
“When our Soldiers are doing route clearance, anything can happen,” Command Sgt. Maj. Abraham Johnson, the senior enlisted leader for the 16th Engineer Brigade. “You always have to be ready and fine-tune those [marksmanship] skills.”