Paratroopers, of the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, or BSB, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, held their Paratrooper Essential Task List, or PETL, Stakes at Fort Bragg last week, pitting 12 squads of the Golden Griffin Battalion against each other in a challenge to determine who can call themselves the very best.
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Within the airborne community, PETL is the list of essential tasks that Paratroopers must be proficient in to successfully complete the organization’s wartime mission. Through a little friendly competition, the BSB emphasized the importance of those competencies and sorted out which company had best excelled at instilling those skills within their ranks.
“The significance of this training is about the readiness of our paratroopers and our ability to execute our mission when the nation calls,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Bresko, commander of the 407th BSB.
“Being a support battalion, we focus heavily on our sustainment technical competencies,” he said. “This training allows us to maintain the balance between those skills and the required tactical paratrooper skills to execute our mission and sustain the brigade.”
The two-day event tested the paratroopers’ knowledge and competence of airborne proficiency tasks, mastery of varied weapon systems, battlefield medical care, and knowledge of how to mitigate the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks. As with any training, the PETL Stakes tried the competitors physically with a grueling 12 to 17 miles of foot marching, depending on how carefully they employed land navigation skills, and a modified Army Physical Fitness Test with a four-mile run.
A ticking clock ran during the movements between lanes and throughout tested events, adding pressure to the challengers. The squads employed teamwork to beat the clock and correctly accomplish the numerous tasks.
“Our squad was very successful due to the various [military occupational specialties] we had,” said Staff. Sgt. Hector Tobar, a combat medic. “This allowed us to have a subject matter expert for each station in this competition.”
At the end of the day, the Battalion’s B Company displayed superior physical strength and technical abilities and took home the coveted trophy. At least one paratrooper expressed an appreciation for the immaterial product of the competition – a display of camaraderie among her team.
“I am super proud of our squad’s cohesion,” Sgt. Victoria Damien said. “It resulted in us being recognized as the best squad in the competition.”