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Seeding Excellence: Premier of 'Soldiers' shows in-depth look at Sullivan Cup competitors

By C. Todd Lopez

FORT MEADE, Md. (Jan. 30, 2017) -- Two M1A2 tank teams from the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, competed early last year for the privilege of representing their division in the Army's 2016 Sullivan Cup at nearby Fort Benning in May 2016.

Journalists with Army Broadcasting at the Defense Media Activity followed those two teams as they competed for the honor, and then went on to document one of the teams competing at the Army's third annual Sullivan Cup -- all part of the special two-episode premier of "Soldiers," a new Army television show aimed at exposing the human side of those who serve in the Army.

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"When we started this project, we asked ourselves one question: who is a Soldier?" said executive producer Lance Milsted, responsible for producing the two-episode premier of "Soldiers." "The Army story is touching, it moves, and we want people to feel the way we feel about Army stories."

The two new episodes, available here for viewing, are titled "Seeding Excellence."

In the first of those two episodes, Sgt. 1st Class Todd Poisson, the 3rd Infantry Division's master gunner, explained how he developed a unique six-week program to determine which one of the two best tank crews in the division -- "Team Cannonarchy" and "Team Count Trackula" -- would be most likely to succeed if sent forward to the Army-wide competition.

Part of that program: operating their tanks, and performing all the functions the Army wants Soldiers to perform with them, without the aid of the on-board computers, in a so-called "degraded mode."

"Back in World War II, that was the norm," Poisson said. "I created an entire Table Six of nothing but degraded engagements. And I took almost everything away from them."

Young Soldiers from both of the eight-man tank crews talked about their experience competing to advance to the Sullivan Cup.

"I'm getting the chance to represent the entire division," said Pfc. Matthew McLain. "Eight people, and I'm one of them. I'm really grateful for the opportunity. It's really humbling."

After six weeks of competition at Fort Stewart, only one of the two teams from 3rd Infantry Division, "Team Cannonarchy" or "Team Count Trackula," would be selected to move forward to the Sullivan Cup competition.

The second installment of "Soldiers" documents their competition there, pitted against the best of the best from eight other Army divisions, the Marine Corps and the Canadian Army.

Other episodes of "Soldiers" will become available later this year, at an expected rate of one each month. Other episodes to air this fall in the first season include:

The series will also be available on and through the Defense TV app on Apple TV and Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and iOS mobile devices.

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