Fort Devens, Massachusetts. (November 1, 2023): In this photo by Sergeant First Class Jeff VanWey, squads from the 3rd Battalion, 304th Regiment compete in the battalion's Wolf Cup Competition, an annual grueling test of their warfighting skills.
The Wolf Cup Competition evaluates a squads’ competencies in basic Army Warrior Tasks including an obstacle course, leader’s reaction course, ruck march, advanced land navigation, and rifle qualification.
The squad is the most basic unit in the infantry and the key to success on the battlefield. Their mission for centuries has been to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy assault by fire and close combat.” A staff sergeant commands a squad of up to 10 Soldiers and will likely have more sergeants under their leadership. Four squads make up a platoon which has between 20 and 50 soldiers and is commanded by a lieutenant. Two or more platoons make up a company, which has 100 to 250 soldiers and is commanded by a captain or a major.
The squad fights as two fire teams referred to as Alpha and Bravo and made up of at least two automatic riflemen, two marksman, and two grenadiers. A rifleman designated as a marksman is chosen based on demonstrated shooting ability, maturity, good judgement, and ability to execute the full range of infantry duties.
A typical rifle squad member carries a heavy load, helmet, boots, body armor, weapon, ammo, food, canteen, and additional equipment that can add up to 120 pounds or more. A grenadier is equipped with an M4 or M16 with an M203 grenade launcher (or the newer M320 grenade launcher) mounted to the weapon. The automatic riflemen provide suppressive fire and give overwatch protection for fellow squad members as they fire and maneuver.
The ultimate mission of the Wolf competition is to foster a competitive environment between squads and to hone the skills of the key to victory in battle, the infantry.