The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013

Gainey Cup: Scouts take on inaugural competition

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Nearly 100 of the military’s best Scouts convened on Fort Benning over the weekend for the inaugural Gainey Cup competition.

“You are the best of the best. You are here to show that,” said Col. David Davidson, 316th Cavalry Brigade commander, during Friday’s welcome brief. “This is going to be a good four days.”

The four days were filled with day and night live fires, foot marches, target identification testing, troop-leading procedures, weapons familiarization, a written exam, reconnaissance lane and an obstacle course. It wrapped up Tuesday with the awards ceremony announcing the final ranking of all 19 teams.

“This isn’t going to be easy, but Scouts never take the easy way,” Col. Paul Laughlin, Armor School commandant, told competitors Friday. “This is about you committing yourself to excellence. We play fair. We play tough. Give it everything you got. There is no prouder organization in our Army than our reconnaissance elements. You have more pride, in my humble opinion, than any other outfit. I am so proud of you. I wish you all the very, very best of luck.” The Soldiers and Marines took that luck with them over the course of the competition. They also carried a physical reminder of their commitment, embodied in a chip given to them by retired Command Sgt. Maj. William “Joe” Gainey.

“That’s my contract with you,” he said “When you accept it and shake my hand … you have signed a contract with me to do your best. You’re not going to win by being second best. Be prepared mentally. Don’t second guess yourself. Do what you know how to do. If you have faith in what you know, your training will kick in. Act like you’re on a mission.”

Gainey, the Cavalry Scout for whom the competition is named, was the first senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired in 2008 after nearly 33 years of service.

“I am very honored to know you,” Gainey told the teams. “I’m just really excited about being here. We are bonded together, even though I came in in 1975 and some of you came in last week. It’s not about the Army and the Marine Corps. It’s about Scouts: the best MOS in the world.” Staff Sgt. Jonathan Phipps, team leader representing the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany, said he felt honored to meet Gainey, who served as the senior NCO of his regiment years ago.

“We’re all honored to be given guidance by such a distinguished senior noncommissioned officer … and to be competing in front of him and for him,” Phipps said. “It’s definitely going to be challenging.”

The challenges started Saturday with the Disciplus Validus, a four-hour physical fitness test including a five-mile foot march, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, a rope climb, tire flip, Humvee pull, Skedco pull, farmers walk and sprints. “It wore us down,” said Staff Sgt. James Todd, 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. “Basically every muscle group in our body was tired, even our minds, tired and exhausted. All in all, it’s 11:52 (in the morning), and it’s been a long day. I feel like it’s almost bedtime already, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Like many others, the Fort Hood, Texas, team started training for the Gainey Cup a month in advance. The training focused on Scout skills — exactly what the Gainey Cup zeroes in on.

“It allows us to get out in our small teams and conduct reconnaissance through different landscapes that we’re not used to,” Todd said of the competition, “work through that terrain stealthily, quietly, to be undetected, not knowing what we’re going to expect, and then be able to come into an objective, set up our observation posts and watch. This is what it’s all about — getting out there, getting around the enemy so we can get in the enemy’s backyard and watch him without him knowing we’re there and then, in the event that we have to, using our weapon systems to defeat the enemy.”

Not all competitors had weeks to prepare, though.

The Marine Corps team was assembled just days before the competition began. Assigned to Fort Benning with the Marine detachment, they included a tank instructor, a combat engineer and a Scout sniper.

After completing target identification — a test involving numerous U.S. and foreign vehicles, helicopters and weapon systems — Sgt. Matthew Storment, a reconnaissance Marine leading the five-man team, said he knew the competition would be difficult, but he was glad to be part of it.

“It’s going to test each team, not only physically but mentally,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here.”

To find out the full list of winners, go to and click on the Facebook link.

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