Steele Challenge Preview
By Mike Strasser
A squad of platoon sergeants, platoon leaders and Cadet Basic Training cadre conducted an early-morning validation of the Steele Challenge Aug. 7 in preparation for the final skills test awaiting the Class of 2016.
Task Force Steele has planned and developed the challenge in and around a 3.5-mile Camp Buckner course, with four companies running through it Aug. 9 and another four Aug. 10.
The challenge encompasses all the training new cadets have acquired during their six weeks of CBT and is designed to assess them on their basic military skills and their physical and mental strength.
“We’ve made it physically taxing on them so they can see how strong they’ve become. They’ve been pushed hard this entire detail and have performed well,” Class of 2013 Cadet Sara Roger, the CBT2 operations officer, said. “This will really be the crucible event to see how they’ve transformed into Soldiers over the past six weeks.”
Roger said the challenge is designed to promote esprit de corps through squad level tasks requiring new cadets to work together.
“It’s definitely a team-building event,” Roger said. “At times during CBT, they’ve encountered situations where the squad leader is taken out of the scenario. We want to challenge them to successfully communicate with each other and complete the site if that happens.”
Each training site was tasked to a different company and cadet committees had to plan and coordinate the logistics on their individual site design.
“We sat down as a team and developed a vision of what this challenge was all about and how we could best inspire new cadets about what being a leader is all about,” Roger said.
The challenge will also honor the character and dedication of the late 1st Lt. Timothy Steele, a Class of 2009 graduate who died while serving in Afghanistan. The CBT2 motto, heard enthusiastically repeated by new cadets during training is “Actions, not words,” and were taken directly from an expression Steele was fond of saying.
“There are instructors here who remember 1st Lt. Steele when he was a cadet,” Roger said. “It was really awesome for them to share what his personality was like, and to read his essays and the quotes he had. We wanted to inspire the new cadets and hope they will emulate the type of leader he was.”
A memorial at the final site of the Steele Challenge will reinforce this when each squad honors the fallen graduate.
“The new cadets will be reminded that not so long ago, 1st Lt. Steele was right where they are (now),” Roger said. “He went through CBT, he had his share of hard times too.”
Steele died in August 2011 of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
“I hope when the new cadets cross the finish line at the Steele Challenge they find it was all worth it—that every single bit of effort they put forth was in honor of 1st Lt. Steele and their future careers as Army officers,” Roger said.
Like the first detail’s McGinnis Challenge, all 128 squads are expected to complete the challenge within an estimated time limit. An award ceremony is scheduled Saturday to recognize the top performances. Members of the Steele family have been invited to attend the ceremony.
Prior to the evening talent show on Sunday, another awards ceremony will be conducted to recognize the best from this second detail, to include Best New Cadet, Best Company and Best Squad Leader.