TACPs and Army Special Forces Test Battefield Skills

1st Lt. Matthew Rother on a rope obstacle.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Airmen and Soldiers competed to see who had the best battlefield-ready team during the Cascade Challenge here Aug. 19.

The Cascade Challenge is a vigorous three-day competition created to test the skills of tactical air control party and Army Special Forces members. The competition challenges the participants both physically and mentally. 

The Cascade participants consisted of active duty Air Force TACP members from the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron, 5th ASOS, 25th ASOS, Air National Guard TACP members from the 238th ASOS, and Army members from the 1st Special Forces Group. 

The Cascade Challenge consisted of Army and Air Force physical training tests, an obstacle course and stress shooting exercises. They were also examined on their map symbols and navigational skills. 

During the event, the service members were tested on battlefield skills such as medical evacuation, first aid, self-aid buddy care, navigation, field artillery request, close air support procedures and call for fire training.

The Cascade Challenge's events were kept secret and the participants did not receive any indication of what the events the challenge would contain.

"The intent of the competition is to see who really is the best at the job," said Master Sgt. Nicholas Picoc, 1st Air Support Operations Group operations superintendent. "By keeping it a secret, you force them to go 100 percent from the first event, all the way to the end."

With the challenges being unknown, the participants had to train their skills in all areas prior to the event, instead of focusing on one portion. 

"Most events you know if you're running a marathon, but for this, you just train for everything," said Staff Sgt. Jarred Fischer, 25th ASOS TACP member.

The challenge began with a lock-down on Monday night at 9 p.m., which included taking away the participant's cellphones until the end of the competition to prevent them from communicating with any outside sources. 

The event helped the participating members identify their strengths and weaknesses.

"It's going to quickly point out things they want to work on to be better at their trade, and it's also going to validate things that they're good at," said Picoc. "It's not just a gut check, but it's a brain check too." 

The challenge ended on Thursday with an awards ceremony.

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