Story by U.S. Army Master Sgt. Myriam Espinoza
FORT BENNING, Ga. – The Sullivan Cup Best Tank Crew Gunnery Competition has been held every two years in Fort Benning, Ga., since 2012, but for the first time in its history, the “first team” crew had a female tank commander of an M1A2 Abrams tank at the competition held May 2-6.
“Since we finally opened our branch in 2016, we now have crews with women and this is a big first, it’s great for us and our branch and it’s long overdue,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Felty, commandant of the School of Armor, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence.
The Sullivan Cup competition typically lasts two weeks, a familiarization week and a week where the crews are ranked. The competition is designed to test tank crews with physically and mentally demanding events. This world-class competition rigorously assesses rig operation, sustainment and lethality skills of competing crews. Crews have the opportunity to show off their skills, not only of their weaponry, but also as a crew, as this competition requires each crew member to communicate and work together effectively to succeed.
“We are thrilled to welcome the best Bradley tanks and crews in the US Army,” Felty said. “We just want to show off the firepower and awesome skills of our Bradleys and Tankers in the military.”
The 1st Cavalry Division, known for its rich history and famous “First Team” brand, once again made history by having the first female tank commander to compete in this year’s competition. It was also the first time in the history of the competition that a crew of Bradley 1CD fighting vehicles had the chance to compete.
“It really is the greatest honor as a tanker to come here and show off the skills we practice every day,” said Sgt. Brandon Street, tanker, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. “It’s fun to come here and compete against the best crews in the army and show that we are the first team, we are the best.”
After the competition was canceled in 2018 due to COVID-19, a total of 7 tanks and 5 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Crews from across the United States came out this year to compete for the coveted Top Tank Crew title. and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in the US Army. .
According to the Cavalry and Armor Association, the Sullivan Cup competition was named for General (Retired) Gordon R. Sullivan, who is credited with transitioning the Army from its Cold War posture . The competition takes place every two years during the first week of May and is hosted by Fort Benning, Georgia, home to some of the toughest ranges on a military installation.
“It’s not an easy lineup, it’s a difficult lineup. Crew coordination is very important when you come to Fort. Benning to shoot. It’s a great range, use good crew talk to maximize your potential,” Felty said.
The two teams representing 1CD spent about a month preparing for the competition. They realized how tough the competition was and that they were up against other top armored vehicle crews carefully selected by their commands to represent them in the competition.
“I am extremely proud of the crews and all the effort they put in throughout the competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Shade Munday, 1st Cavalry Division CSM. “The competition was tough, the crews stayed motivated and worked as a team, that’s what it’s all about.
The tank crew of the 1st Cavalry Division took 2nd place in this year’s competition by less than half a point. The Bradley Fighting Crew took 5th place.
“We came in with only a month of training, we built ourselves from the ground up, this competition has brought us even closer,” said 1st Lt. Janel Tracy, tank commander, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, Team of the 1st Armored Brigade. “It was a difficult experience, but we worked as a team and that’s where we gave our best. We had fun and the competition made us a closer crew and we built bonds that will be there for the rest of our lives.