11th ACR Tankers train for triumph

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Trooper bore-sighting the main gun of an M1A1 Abrams with a Muzzle Boresight Device. (U.S. Army photo by PV2 Sayvon Johnson, 11ACR Public Affairs)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The Sullivan Cup is a competition designed to determine the best tank crew in the U.S. military and takes place on the first week of May of even numbered years in Fort Benning, Georgia. Participants are limited to the Army’s Armor Branch, the U.S. Marine Corps, and select international partners. Teams of four strive to complete their tasks as fast as possible but also to standard as described in Training Curricular 3-20.31-1: Gunnery Skills Test. To do well, a crew must anticipate the enemy’s actions, have a strong grasp of doctrine, know its vehicle, master the fundamental skills, synchronize its actions, and understand the terrain. The winning team has the honor of being named the “Best Tank Crew”.

Crew members disassembled and reassembled, then conducted a functions check for the M240 machine gun. (U.S. Army photo by PFC Gower Liu, 11ACR Public Affairs)

The Sullivan Cup is an opportunity to showcase a unit’s ability to conduct Armor and general military skills in a competitive nature. The competitive aspect leads to a single victor that shows proof in their hard work and dedication paying off. The Sullivan Cup ultimately leads to a more proficient and lethal Armor organization. On Jan. 8, teams from 1st Squadron and 2nd Squadron of 11th ACR, rehearsed the steps to be successful in this prestigious event. Planning for this day started nearly a month in advance. At 9:00 in the morning, all teams assembled in 2/11’s conference room for the vehicle identification and the ammunition identification portions of the test.

From there, the Troopers moved to the Hawg Troop area where each crew member disassembled and reassembled, then conducted a functions check for both the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun and M240 machine gun. They proceeded to load blank ammunition, conducted remedial action, and unloaded ammunition for the weapon systems.

Trooper assisting in bore-sighting the main gun of an M1A1 Abrams. (U.S. Army photo by PFC Gower Liu, 11ACR Public Affairs)

Once all members completed the crew-served weapon training they moved to the next location. Behind the 2/11 motor pool one crew bore-sighted the main gun of an M1A1 Abrams with a Muzzle Boresight Device while another crew, inside the motor pool, was busy working with the tank’s main armament: a M256 120mm smoothbore cannon. Their tasks included clearing the weapon, raising and lowering its breech block, loading and conducting remedial action, and performing a functions check and test fire. After the lunch break, the teams swapped locations to practice the tasks they had not yet completed. Each portion of the training will go into consideration when selecting the four Troopers to be the primary crew and who will fall to the secondary crew.

The first Sullivan Cup took place in 2012. The event is a tribute to Gen. (Ret.) Gordon R. Sullivan, an armor officer who concluded his 36-year career by serving as the 32nd Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1991-1995. Past Sullivan Cup winners consist of 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in 2012; 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in 2014; 1st Battalion, 252nd Armored Regiment, 30th Brigade Combat Team in 2016; and B Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in 2018.

The 5th biennial Sullivan Cup will take place from May 4 to May 8 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and is open to the public. Crews will conduct maintenance, endure simulated medical emergencies and chemical attacks, engage targets, maneuver and navigate their armored fighting vehicle, stress shoot with M4s and M9s, take written tests, and participate in a Situational Training Exercise. 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Troopers are on the road to success as they train for the various event associated with the 2020 Sullivan Cup.