ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois -- The Army Materiel Command's Best Warrior Competition began well before dawn Monday with eight competitors vying for an opportunity to win the title here and compete at the Army-level in October.

AMC Command Sgt. Maj. James K. Sims provided a brief overview at a pavilion dubbed FOB Sustainer before competitors received mission cards with a map to their first event. They navigated in the dark to a station where they met their first challenge: a physical fitness test.

Unlike the traditional Army test that allows a 10-minute break between events, this test moved quickly from pushups to sit-ups and a two-mile run.

"The rigors of this competition tests their physical endurance and mental resiliency," said Sims. In addition to the two-mile portion of the fitness test, Soldiers covered more than 17 miles on foot during the competition as they navigated from one event to another. Each stop presented a new challenge.

For competitor Staff Sgt. David Carter, the physical portion of the competition most challenging. "I was surprised by the PT test with no breaks," said Carter, who works on military intelligence systems at Aberdeen Proving Ground and won the non commissioned officer of the year for the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command. "That was a curveball, but that's what makes it interesting."

Sims said the competition was geared toward today's Soldiers who are expected to be prepared for the unknown, operate a little longer with less rest and to be comfortable in ambiguous situations. "This year's competition has been designed to create less than ideal conditions for the competitors to operate in," Sims said.

Spec. Alisha Bailey, a percussionist with the Army Materiel Command Band who was named AMC's Headquarters and Headquarters Company Soldier of the year, said the competition on day one was more mentally tasking than she anticipated. "But it's a really good way for me to put myself out there and challenge myself."

Soldiers moved through a situational training lane where they performed duties as a convoy commander, moved under direct and indirect fire, performed medical tasks and faced hand-to-hand combat. Other training lanes had Soldiers assembling weapons, reacting to a chemical attack and taking a written exam.

"After the fifth station, my legs felt like giving out and I wanted to take a nap. It was definitely challenging," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Hopson, a military policeman and the Army Sustainment Command's non commissioned officer of the year. "What I learned is that I have short memory as far as pain is concerned. Right now I feel pretty good," he said after completing the first day's events.

Hopson said he spent the time leading up to the competition doing a lot of running. "I ran in my gear, in the heat, in boots," he said. "I did things I wouldn't normally do for PT."

This year's competition also included mystery events. In one scenario, Soldiers had to prepare a Class B uniform for the opposite sex. The event was a surprise to some, but well received. "I thought it was great," said Staff Sgt. Eliud Temblador. "When do we ever get to put together a female uniform?"

In another twist, Soldiers fired M4s at a range and were instructed to shoot with their non-firing hand. "Shooting with the non-dominant hand caught me off guard," said Pfc. Davonta Colflesh, a transportation management coordinator with the 403rd Army Field Support Brigade in Deagu, Korea. Colflesh is the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Soldier of the year.

The competition ends Tuesday. The top Soldier and non commissioned officer from AMC will go on to represent the command at the Army level Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va., in October.

AMC Best Warrior Competition photos here:

More photos here:

Page last updated Tue August 26th, 2014 at 10:26