By Pfc. Lauren Boyle-Estheimer
Soldiers of the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) 1st Brigade participated in their annual training (AT) September 23-26, 2021. This involved combined training for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion, and 4th Battalion Soldiers competing for the overall Best Soldier team, as well as the Best Battalion. The individual and collective mission essential task list (METL) in which Soldiers were evaluated included: land navigation, common task testing (CTT), urban search and rescue (USAR), communications tasks, and other basic soldier skills.
The Georgia State Defense Force 1st Brigade holds its annual training at Catoosa Training Site, Tunnel Hill, Ga., Sept. 23-26, 2021.
Georgia State Defense Force photo by Warrant Officer Alexander Davidson
Day 1: 1st Brigade Soldiers competed in team-style competitions over a two-day period at the Volunteer Training Site Catoosa, in Catoosa County, Georgia. The Concept of Operations began on Day 1 with two-man teams competing on two separate land navigation courses (both consisting of six check points), followed by 10 individual lanes operated by the observer controllers. The 10 lanes consisted of CTT testing including: CPR/first aid, knot tying, communication tasks, chain of command, terrain association, and map reading skills.
Day 2: The second day of competition involved Soldiers competing on a final set of five primary lanes: three search and rescue (SAR) specialist-related lanes, one METL-related lane, and one FEMA-related lane. Soldiers worked in four-man teams to execute their mission of physically searching for missing persons and rescuing entrapped and injured survivors inside an area impacted by a disaster event. During the exercise, Soldiers also engaged in critical decision-making processes, setting up a helicopter landing zone, litter carry improvisation, as well as performed structural damage assessments while communicating situational awareness with the tactical operations center.
“I’m very pleased at the preparation and execution of a very arduous annual training,” said Col. Rick Yi. “Our Soldiers prove over and over they are the best in the state.”
Best Soldier and Best Battalion Awards
At the completion of this physically and mentally demanding competition, victors of the Best Soldier competition, as well as the Best Battalion (taking the top 4 or 5 scoring teams from each battalion and averaging the scores) were announced during the combat dine-in. 2nd Battalion Soldiers Spc. Marcus Kister and Pfc. Samuel Cox were named Best Soldier winners; 2nd Battalion was awarded the Best Battalion guidon streamer.
“Winning the Best Soldier Competition has helped me put the past year’s training in perspective with our primary mission of search and rescue. It has also convinced me to take my training to the next level by preparing for the SARSPEC II class,” Pfc. Cox explained.
Spc. Kister added, “Winning the team competition and the battalion competition was very exciting! This achievement inspires me to learn more, to gain more knowledge and skills that will make me an even better Soldier.”
Many of the mission-critical skills Soldiers and officers demonstrated during annual training are considered to be perishable. These scenario-based exercises also helped assess deficiencies within the brigade and identified areas that may require additional training. Furthermore, this training applied the principles of espirit de corps to achieve common goals and objectives among Soldiers of 1st Brigade.
Winners of the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) 1st Brigade Best Soldier Competition: Spc. Marcus Kister and Pfc. Samuel Cox, Tunnel Hill, Ga., Sept. 26, 2021. The competition was held during the 1st Brigade’s annual training. This was one of several GSDF annual trainings. During annual trainings, GSDF Soldiers focus on skills and tasks that help them serve the citizens of Georgia.
Georgia State Defense Force photo by Pfc. Lauren Boyle-Estheimer
“I’m very proud of the performance of the 2/1 year after year,” Maj. James LeMay said. “They demonstrate they are ‘second to none.’ To keep performing at such a high level requires constant vigilance and training. We will continue to set the standard for others to follow.”
The 1st Brigade trains extensively in SAR and land navigation to provide skilled assistance to local authorities in their efforts to locate lost people, as well as deploy in support of natural disasters relief operations within Georgia communities.
GSDF Annual Trainings
This was one of numerous GSDF annual trainings. During annual trainings, GSDF Soldiers focus on skills and tasks that help them serve the citizens of Georgia.
The GSDF is a component of the Georgia Department of Defense, along with the Georgia Air National Guard and the Georgia Army National Guard.
Acknowledgement: The GSDF would like to thank the Tennessee Army National Guard for allowing the GSDF 1st Brigade to train onsite for this mission-critical exercise.