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Lieutenants with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), run with a stretcher carrying a simulated casualty Aug. 29 during Operation Seneca Rocks Best Lieutenant Competition at Fort Drum. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Ed Robles, 1st BCT, 10th Mountain Division PAO)


1st Brigade Combat Team ‘Rocks’ Best Lieutenant Competition


Capt. Ed Robles

1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI)


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 30, 2018) – The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), launched its first Operation Seneca Rocks Best Lieutenant Competition on Aug. 29 at Fort Drum.

The competition’s name pays homage to the Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, training area where, from 1943 through 1944, 10th Mountain Soldiers validated their mountain warfare training to earn the division’s “Mountain” tab insignia. The Soldiers validated at Seneca Rocks went on to seize German artillery positions on Riva Ridge in the Apennine Mountains of Italy during World War II.

Twelve teams from across 1st BCT’s seven battalions participated in the event, which focused on training fundamentals through testing eight warrior tasks: Land Navigation; Call for Fire; Recognition of Combat Vehicles (ROC-V); Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN); Weapons Assembly; Vehicle Maintenance; Radio Communication, and Combat Casualty Care.

After the hands-on testing, each leader took a written test to complete the competition. During the exam, the brigade commander spoke to all participants and provided insight into their future operations while fielding their questions.

“Competitions bring out the best in our Soldiers,” said Col. Shane Morgan, 1st BCT commander. “Although these tasks are fundamental skills, we don’t perform them every day and we need to practice. No different than high school, college, or a professional sports team, you must practice the basics, and we must have multiple repetitions before executing under pressure.

“The Best Lieutenant Competition serves as a way to train our leaders on the basic tasks that every Soldier must know, and those critical tasks that every Soldier must feel confident executing while under pressure,” he added.

Soldiers raced against the clock to eight warrior task stations throughout Fort Drum, where they were graded on demonstrated skill level. Teams also were tasked with physical exercises between stations to increase the challenge.

“We were pushed to our physical limits, and I enjoyed it,” said 1st Lt. Bradley Davidson, troop executive officer, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. “We had to treat multiple mock casualties, which is something we rarely get to do.”

“I thought it was great to get back to the basics,” said 1st Lt. Lyle Regalado, platoon leader, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. “Sometimes platoon leaders and company executive officers can be so far removed that we may not practice things such as MOPP (mission oriented protective posture) gear for the chemical lane.”

First Lts. Jonathan McElroy and Nathan Dow, both of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, credited their team’s victory to practice and competition.

“This event was very competitive, and great for anyone who has a competitive nature,” McElroy said. 

“Competition forces you to prove your greatness and prepares us for the fight ahead,” Dow said. “We should always work towards being more lethal on the battlefield. War is high stakes, and we’re ready now.”

The event also was a strong measure of the ability to lead Soldiers by example.

“The Seneca Rocks competition provided the opportunity for lieutenants to show they are as technically and tactically proficient as the Soldiers they lead,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Wendell Franklin, 1st BCT senior enlisted adviser. “There is no greater inspiration than leaders who routinely share in their team’s hardships. The hardship and training they put themselves through in this event not only inspired their own Soldiers, it also inspired everyone in this brigade combat team.”

Completing the competition gave Soldiers a chance to reflect on the opportunity to lead and the importance of consistent improvement.

“I believe it is our privilege to lead Soldiers,” said 2nd Lt. Melissa Lara, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. “This event was great because it helped me improve as a leader, and my Soldiers will be better for it.”

“This was a reminder to always challenge ourselves,” said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Davenport, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st BCT.  “Gaining better self-awareness is a big part of being a leader, and I think it’s going to help me and my Soldiers driving forward.”