Sgt. Major of the Army Daniel Dailey began AUSA 2017 as usual at 6:30 a.m. Monday, but instead of coffee and Danishes, he treated soldiers to a high-intensity obstacle course.
Dailey joined more than 60 soldiers in the Battle Challenge, a special course that combines marksmanship with physical challenges such as climbing a cargo net; clearing a seven-foot wall; low crawling under concertina wire and dragging a simulated dummy casualty -- all while wearing a plate carrier and helmet and carrying a rubberized M4 carbine.
Dailey's time -- 2:15:89.
"This is a great little challenge," Dailey said. "It's short but, I'll tell you, it's high intensity."
Dailey said the years of the standard AUSA SMA breakfast are over, at least while he's in the job.
"We used to just bring everybody in and just talk to them. That's not the way we start our day as soldiers. We start our day as soldiers with PT," Dailey said.
"We originally started with run with the SMA. Then we took it up a notch and do a Battle Challenge. I think this is something that is going to stay for the future," he said.
While the SMA is known for his love of physical challenges, he joked that the most challenging part of the course for him is "probably pulling that 185-pound dummy back."
In addition to the obstacles, soldiers also had to engage targets with a simulated, laser-sighted M4 carbine from two positions on the indoor course.
Spc. Kenny Ochoa, 23, of the Army Reserve's 81st Heavy Boat Transportation Company said he enjoyed the challenge of the event, finishing with a time of 1:54.
He also enjoyed that the SMA did the course alongside soldiers.
"The SMA is a beast," said Ochoa, who was one of the 22 Best Warrior competitors participating in the event. "He won't make his soldiers do anything he wouldn't do."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.