CAMP SIMBA, Kenya – U.S. service members from the U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Air Force, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), participated in a joint-force combined arms marksmanship competition July 20-25, 2022, at Camp Simba, Kenya.
The event hosted 52 participants with individual and team competitions using multiple weapon systems.
The matches simulated combat scenarios with competitors engaging targets from multiple distances and positions, with target transitioning, weapon manipulation, while combining all of those skills under the stress of time and accuracy.
“The event was modeled after the TAG (the adjutant general) match as well as the Winston P. Wilson National Match that is conducted at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center each year,” said U.S. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Chandler Potts, event organizer and platoon sergeant with 1st platoon, B Company, 1-116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon. “I was able to participate in the regional and national matches in 2021. I wanted to take my experiences from those events and recreate it in a deployed environment.”
The Winstone P. Wilson (WPW) Championship is a national-level shooting competition that is held annually at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Potts’ goal was for Soldiers and Airmen to gain experience shooting in large-scale matches like the WPW and have a unique training opportunity while serving in a joint-deployed environment.
The match consisted of three days of shooting with seven separate events, and the 52 participants were broken into 13 four-person teams.
Day One consisted of the Rifle Reflexive Fire, which simulates engaging an enemy target wearing body armor. From there, participants moved into the General George S. Patton Pistol Match. This was a team event that required the members to run 300 yards in under two minutes. After the two minutes have elapsed, the team engaged six targets per team from 30 yards, 25 yards and 20 yards.
Day Two included the Rifle Close Quarter Combat Match, the Odds are Against You Rifle Match and the Anti Body Armor Pistol Match.
The Rifle Close Quarter Combat match tested the shooter's ability to identify and engage targets from 100 yards, working up to 25 yards and more rapid engagements. The 100 and 75 yards shots were from the kneeling position, and the 50 and 25 yards were from the standing, low ready at a head-only target with exposure times decreasing as shooters moved closer to their target.
The Odds are Against you Rifle Match focused on weapon manipulation, magazine changes and counting rounds. Participants engaged multiple targets while remembering their round count per target, which does not coincide with the number of rounds in their magazine. The rounds per targets are odd numbers, hence the name of the match.
The Anti Body Armor Pistol Match was the same course of fire as the Rifle Reflexive Fire match, but at a closer distance and with the service pistol.
Day Three was the Pistol Excellence in Competition (EIC), a federal match in which competitors can earn the Excellence-In-Competition Badge, which is part of the process to earn the Distinguished Marksmanship Badge in that discipline. The EIC match itself tests the shooter's marksmanship ability with a service pistol from 30 yards, to 15 yards. The 30-yard portion was a slow engagement focused on accuracy. The 25-yard portion is from the kneeling and prone position, and the 20- and 15-yard parts focused on rapid engagements with target transitions and magazine changes.
The Final Day: was the Bianchi Battle. This team match is a multi-gun shoot with a course of fire created by Potts.
Teams began on the start line 300 yards out from the targets. They did five burpees then ran to the 200 yard line where they engaged targets with rifles from the prone position. Next, they ran to the 100 yard line engaging targets with rifles in any position other than the prone. Teams then moved to a shotgun staging table where they engaged 10 water bottle targets at various distances.
Finally, the team moved to the pistol shooting area where they engage targets with pistols and either made the choice to end the match or continue to a bonus stage where they engaged targets with 240 Bravo machine guns to receive time reductions to help their score.
U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Alexandra Griffeth, a member of the All-Guard International Combat Team in 2018, and team leader with A Company, 1-116th Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon, participated in the match and finished 1st in the combined-arms individual category and 1st in pistol.
“The match in Kenya was a fantastic event to introduce newer Soldiers and Airmen to some of the events typically seen at state, regional and national matches,” said Griffeth. “It provided those shooters with the opportunity to see how accurately they can shoot under pressure, and gave them feedback to learn how they can improve. They can now take what they learned from the Kenya match back to their units.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jamie Shawley, commander of CJTF-HOA, presented awards to the winners at Camp Simba.
“I appreciate everyone taking the time away from your normal duties,” Shawley said. “It builds comradery, team spirit and jointness during this deployment experience. This event never would have happened without the vision, motivation and the drive of our own Staff Sgt. Potts.”
Here are the top three finishers who were presented awards in pistol, rifle, combined pistol and rifle, and team events:
Pistol 1st place: U.S. Army Sgt. Alexandra Griffeth with 299 points 2nd place: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman James Bell with 291 points 3rd place: U.S. Army Sgt. Jameson Kelly with 271 points
Rifle 1st place: U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Matthew Sukovich with 393 points 2nd place: U.S. Army Spc. Jacob Friedman with 380 points 3rd place: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Fulton with 375 points
Rifle and Pistol combined 1st place: U.S. Army Sgt. Alexandra Griffeth with 669 points 2nd place: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman James Bell with 663 points 3rd place: U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Matthew Sukovich 646 points
Team 1st place: Raptor A- U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Fulton, Sgt. Matthew Dawson, Spc. Jacob Friedman, Spc. Jonathan Farrar 2nd place: Ace Tomato Co.- U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dino Vidal, Sgt. Luke Miller, Sgt. First Class Matthew Sukovich, Staff Sgt. Colin Oppegard 3rd place: STS- U.S. Air Force Cpt. Jesse Stafford, Tech. Sgt. Cody Muchow, Senior Airman James Bell, Tech. Sgt. Lex Sierra