Marines assigned to the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) took over the running track Jan. 4 at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head to squeeze a little friendly competition into the unit’s busy training and operations schedule. The events-a sked race, tire flip, dizzy izzy, medicine ball toss, gas mask relay, stretcher race and tug of war-may not have looked too much like traditional Marine Corps training. But the enthusiasm of the participants revealed the goal of the event: build camaraderie and have a little fun.
The competition pitted members of Initial Response Force (IRF) Alpha, IRF Bravo and Headquarters and Service Company against each other. Staff Sgt. William Caldwell, CBIRF technical training chief, was one of two enlisted leaders who came up with the field meet’s novel challenges. “What I wanted my Marines to get out of this today is to let their hair down and build some camaraderie,” he said. “A lot of times, we don’t get the chance because we’re working so much. We don’t always get a chance to bring the Marines together.”
“We’re coming back from a break. we have a lot of things on our schedule this year and this gets [the Marines] back in the game,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carlis Brown, a naval officer assigned to CBIRF. “We didn’t ease into the Ney Year here; we immediately started into training. This just caps that off.”
Most of the events included demonstrations of CBIRF’s chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) response skills. “Some of the [events] that we did, like carrying the Stokes Basket [stretchers], we actually do that in our jobs,” said Caldwell. “In a real-life scenario, we would have Marines carrying those baskets. Our extraction team. they actually do that, so we can get a little training value out of it, too.”
The Marines put together a particularly interesting spin on that standby of office picnic events, the dizzy izzy. After twenty fast spins around a bat, staggering competitors rushed across a field where they assembled or disassembled an M-16 service rifle. As if being too dizzy to stand were not enough, the competing Marines were treated to a barrage of “advice” from fellow Marines about how best to carry out that task; some of the advice was correct, some was deliberately misleading.
Of course, the Marines of CBIRF are already well-versed in CBRNE and Marine skills, but the competitive nature of the Marines made the field meet an ideal forum for them to execute each skill a little faster, with a little more intensity.
That desire to constantly improve manifested itself in many ways, not the least of which is the unique ways Marines find to motivate their comrades. “One of those things about the Marine Corps is that we’re so competitive,” said Caldwell. “We make it fun. this is a great time for the Marines to get together and, without worrying about work, just have a good time. So you’ll hear a little trash talking; you’ll see somebody motivating [a competitor]. But at the end of the day, we’re all going to get together, pat each other on the back, and go home.”
At the end of the day, the surprise winner of the field meet was announced. Headquarters and Service Company bested IRFs Alpha and Bravo for the prize: a few days liberty and bragging rights.
Col. Peter Ahern, commanding officer of CBIRF, ended the field meet by offering the Marines a preview of what promises to be a very busy year for the unit. He also praised the Marines for their dedication and professionalism. “I’m proud of what you do each and every day,” Ahern told the Marines. “Keep it up.”