Fire support teams compete for best in brigade

by Sgt. Warren Wright, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
Stripes Korea

CAMP HOVEY, South Korea – Soldiers from across the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, competed in the brigade’s Best Fire Support Team (FIST) competition on Camp Hovey, South Korea May 15-16.

The competition, which included four Bradley FISTs and three dismounted FISTs, tested the teams’ skills in a multitude of Soldier and fire support tasks.

“The Best FIST competition helps build esprit de corps, team work and raise moral within the FIST community,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Martin, the 1st ABCT brigade fires noncommissioned officer and a native of Toledo, Ohio. “We don’t have a competition like the (Expert Infantry Badge), Excellence in Armor or the (Expert Field Medical Badge), so it’s something we did ourselves to say, ‘hey, you’ve earned the title of best FIST.’”

The competition started with the Soldiers taking the Army physical fitness test. Each individual test score was then averaged together to give an overall team score.

The two-day competition also tested the Soldiers on a wide variety of fire support functions, to include land navigation, communication equipment setup and testing, manning an observation post, call for fire simulation, and fire support team planning to name a few.

“They were definitely evaluating for the best FIST in the brigade,” said competitor 1st Lt. Andres Gonzales, a company fire support officer for Company C, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, and a native of Miami. “Everything was by-the-book standard. What I really liked about it was it was definitely a challenge.”

The competition ended with the FIST teams conducting a 10-mile road march which required each competitor to finish under two hours and 30 minutes.

The competitors remained motivated throughout the entire competition, Martin said. “The cadre did a great job keeping the event steady so there was a nice flow. Overall, I am very pleased with the way it went.”

In the end, the team from 1st Bn., 16th Inf. Regmt., took home the title of best Bradley FIST and the team from 3rd Bn., 66th Armor Regmt. won best dismounted FIST.

“I’m extremely honored, but I couldn’t have done it without my guys,” Gonzalez said. “We had such a great team in general. You can’t pinpoint it to just one man.”

The competition was created within the brigade and under the coordination of fire support Soldiers like Martin because the Army doesn’t have a best FIST competition of its own.

“There is no Army standard on what the competition is supposed to look like, so it’s something we created as a brigade fires cell,” Martin said. “We put our minds together and said, ‘okay, this is what we would expect.’”

For both the competitors and event organizers, having the competition was a way to showcase the many advantages fire supporters bring to the overall fight.

“We give the platoons and the companies, at the smallest level, the ability to accurately and timely call for fire to help shape the battlefield,” Martin said. “The more we destroy with indirect fire or air assets, the less the infantry and the armor have to fight the enemy face to face.”

Gonzales said the competition not only gives the winning teams bragging rights, but was also a great way for teams to determine their level of proficiency in their jobs.

“It was extremely professional,” he said. “At the end of the day it evaluates the FIST team on our fire support skills based off the tasks, conditions and standards.”

The 1st ABCT is currently on a nine-month rotation to South Korea as part of a regular rotational force in order to deter North Korean aggression and provide security to the Korean peninsula.

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