Category Archives: Best Squad Competition

Aiming for True Blue – Expert Infantryman Badge Train Up

Infantrymen from across the 3rd Brigade Combat Team spent early May training to prepare themselves to earn the Expert Infantryman Badge on Fort Bragg.

Highly valued by Infantrymen, earning the EIB is a testament to the Paratrooper’s technical skill, tactical knowledge and physical endurance.

Testing for the EIB occurred the second week of May on Fort Bragg, requiring candidates to succeed in a grueling evaluation culminating in a 12-mile timed ruckmarch.

Congratulations to the Paratrooper and NCO of the Quarter!

We congratulate Sgt. Puckett of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Pfc. Viuhkola of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment; they are the 3rd Brigade NCO and Paratrooper of the Quarter!

These paratroopers prevailed over their peers during a multi-day competition testing their tactical competency and grit during a physical fitness test, a live call-for-fire exercise and a board in front of the brigade’s senior NCO leadership.

High Angle Excellence; 82nd Airborne Mortar Team Best in Army Three Years in a Row

For the third year in a row, the best Mortar Team in the United States Army is from the 82nd Airborne Division.

A Mortar Team composed of paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division won the U.S Army Best Mortar Competition on April 11, 2019; the third time in a row.

From Left to Right, Pfc. Loren Dow, Spc. Elliott Christian, Sgt. Alec Norton and Staff Sgt. James Pennington of 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division are the U.S. Army’s Best Mortar Team for the third year in a row after winning the 2019 Best Mortar Competition held at Fort Benning, Georgia. This was Norton’s third Best Mortar victory and Pennington’s second Best Mortar victory.


“Winning three in a row demonstrates a culture of sustained excellence,” said Lt. Col. Jason Wayne, commander of 1-505th PIR. “Winning the Best Mortar Competition is simply a visible recognition of the hours of hard work the entire Mortar Platoon puts into mastering their warfighting tasks each day.”

The annual competition held at Fort Benning, Georgia is a grueling multi-day test of participants’ ability to work as a synchronized team despite physical adversity and mental exhaustion. The first time it was held in 2017 served as a validation for it to become an official Army-level competition.

Events during the competition test participants’ tactical skills, mental grit technical knowledge as Indirect Fire Infantryman.

“Day two of the competition was the most physically demanding. After completing the Downy mile and leaders walk, our team was at our lowest point” said Sgt. Alec Norton who has competed and won in all three of the Best Mortar Competitions. “We dug deep and used our strengths and weakness to our advantage through the event immediately following it, the obstacle course.”

At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the team trained intensively for months to prepare for the competition, focusing on performing fundamental tactical and technical tasks like first aid exceptionally. Speed and adjusting to adversity were two factors underlying each training session.

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Team 11 from 82nd Airborne Division hold their trophies after winning the 2019 Best Mortar Competition April 11 here. After three days of competition among 19 U.S. Army mortar teams and one Dutch army mortar team, the 82nd Airborne Division prevailed as champions during the Best Mortar Competition April 11 here. The winning team was from the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The squad included Staff Sgt. James Pennington, Sgt. Alec Norton, Spc. Christian Elliot and Pfc. Loren Dow. The 82nd Airborne Division also won during the first year of the competition, when Pennington and Norton were on the team. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)


“As a team for two straight weeks leading up to the competition, I helped teach Fire Direction Controls and hands-on mortar training to cater to the Task, Conditions and Standards of the competition,” said Norton.

Spc. Christian Elliott and Pfc. Loren Dow, the two junior members of the team, took plotting boards home to continue training in their down time in-between twice-a-day physical training sessions focused on performing exercises evaluated by the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

Not resting on their laurels, the team strives to teach other 1-505 PIR Indirect Fire Infantrymen their best practices and techniques to improve their proficiency and lethality.

“This team is prepared to jump, fight and win on any battlefield. They will continue to hone their skills as they prepare to deploy in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel later this summer,” said Wayne. “Rest Assured, they will return to Fort Benning next year to defend the title.”