Soldiers Take on Trojan Warrior

10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 

By Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta, 138th MPAD

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) met the challenge of the Trojan Warrior, a grueling land and water movement exercise which tested their skills and stamina as special forces soldiers.

Seventy-eight soldiers from eight Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) teams took part in the exercise, which began with a series of events at the Panzer Kaserne Range in Böblingen, Germany, on May 22.

A fast-rope descent of 70 feet, a four-point firing range, and two skills outside of special forces training-archery and spear throwing-made up the first day’s events. Each soldier wore about 35 pounds of gear, including a rifle, load-carrying equipment, and body armor. With the exception of archery and spear throwing, the soldiers ran through each event for time and were scored on their accuracy with the M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Buelow of ODA 024 said running added to the stress of shooting accurately.

"If it was easy," Buelow said, "everyone would be special forces."

Sgt. Major Richard Lamb said fast-roping enables up to four soldiers to dismount a hovering helicopter quickly, limiting their exposure to enemy fire.

Lamb, who ran the fast-rope event, compared it to sliding down a pole at a fire station, with a key difference.

"Your hands tend to get hot," Lamb said.

Archery and spear throwing added to the first day’s challenges. The soldiers shot five arrows for familiarization before shooting 10 arrows within two minutes.

Staff Sgt. Michael Carrol of ODA 013 said he preferred shooting an M4 carbine or M9 pistol, which he called “the tools of our trade.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher Cummings ran the spear-throwing event, and said it was a morale booster, considering what he called the “pain and suffering” the soldiers would undergo in the following days.

Cummings was referring to the 100-mile land and water movement beginning at midnight on May 22.

Though they paddled rubber boats 18 miles down the Danube River, the teams made most of the journey on foot-moving day and night through checkpoints where they were tested on tasks like weapons assembly, knot tying, and time-fuse calculation.

Photo By SSG Raymond Drumsta

ODA 020 paddles down the Danube River.

Teams drew cards to select which team member would do the task, and failure meant the addition of two hours to the team’s overall time.

The soldiers also solved a different navigation problem at each checkpoint, finding their way using fragmented map sheets, photocopied maps, aerial photos, and joint operational graphic maps.

Master Sgt. David Hartley, the battalion S-3 assistant operations sergeant, said the navigation challenges were part of the mental stress of Trojan Warrior, emphasizing that navigation is all part of being in special forces.

“It’s one of the critical tasks we test and train on,” Hartley said.

Chief Warrant Officer John Wesley Crone III, ODA 015, said accurate navigation depends on fallback procedures like terrain association and, ultimately, teamwork.

“We always have one guy check the other guy’s work,” Crone said.

The land movement included a 200-meter rappel down the sheer, rocky cliffs of the Swabian Alps.

Master Sgt. Matthew Kemper, ODA 023, said the entire movement required endurance and focus. He said special forces soldiers are naturally mission focused.

Photo by SSG Raymond Drumsta

Master Sgt. Matthew Kemper, ODA 023, begins a 200-meter rappel down a cliff in the Swabian Alps.

“They’re here because they want to be here,” Kemper said.

The teams drove hard, treating blisters on the march.

By May 24, ODA 024 was four hours ahead of the next leading team. At this point the exercise was ended, and ODA 024 was declared the winner, with a time of 44 hours for a total distance of 45 miles.

Photo taken by SSG Raymond Drumsta

The winning team members of ODA 024 pose with their trophy. Pictured, left to right are: Staff Sgt. Nathan Buelow, Master Sgt. David Conner, Sgt. 1st Class Michael McGlamery, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Swadling, Sgt. 1st Class Harry Campbell, Chief Warrant Officer Kirk Teany, Staff Sgt. William Hanes, Capt. Peter Dannenberg.

Master Sgt. David Conner, ODA 024, said the water movement was the hardest part.

“The current was slow, the water was shallow, and we got hung up a lot,” Conner said.

Conner said Trojan Warrior covered a variety of terrains, from mountainous to urban, and enabled teams to identify their strengths and weaknesses. He added that ODA 024 was “already a solid team.”

Kemper said Trojan Warrior and other exercises build camaraderie.

“Anytime you do an endurance event, it draws the team together,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Larry Shaw, ODA 023, said a benefit of the exercise was “knowing that if you had to do this for real, you could do it.”

“It’s good to know what your capabilities are as an ODA,” Shaw said.

Crone said mission success is never in doubt.

“We never have the feeling we won’t accomplish it,” he said. “What’s challenging to us is figuring out the way we will accomplish it.”

Based at Panzer Kaserne in Böblingen, First Battalion, Tenth Special Forces Group (Airborne) is the only Army special forces unit in Europe.

Trojan Warrior was the vision of it’s commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Perkins.


U.S. Army, Europe Public Affairs POC for this release is SSG Raymond Drumsta at DSN 370-7126, commercial, 06221-57-7126 or Email:


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