Battle for 'Best Warrior' brings 24 elite Soldiers, NCOs to Fort Lee
September 25, 2009
- The 2009 Department of the Army Competition runs Sept. 28-Oct. 2 at Fort Lee, Va.
- This is the seventh year Fort Lee will host the DA competition. The first year was held at Fort A.P. Hill.
- Last year, two reserve-component Soldiers earned the titles.
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 25, 2009) -- From Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, 24 of the Army's elite Soldiers and noncommissioned officers representing 12 different commands will converge on Fort Lee to see who will be named this year's Soldier and NCO of the Year.
Soldiers from across the Army have been participating in various competitions, slowly making their way to the top for a chance to prove themselves in the 2009 Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition.
Units represented this year include: U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Forces Korea, U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, Army National Guard and the National Capitol Region, which includes several smaller commands.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston will oversee this grueling, week-long competition designed to test the physical mettle and intellectual ability of each competitor while creating the most realistic environment possible.
"We have designed the competition to be extremely realistic and robust while still creating scenarios that Soldiers can take back and use for training without it costing their units a lot of money," said Master Sgt. Derrick Williams, Best Warrior planning cell operations NCO in charge. "The guidance I gave (the planning cell) was to make the scenarios as realistic as possible based off of experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan."
From this guidance, the planning cell has created an environment where competitors must demonstrate Army aptitude by competing in urban warfare simulations, board interviews, essays, physical fitness tests as well as warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today's operating environment.
Unlike other competitions that just test physical strength or endurance, the Best Warrior Competition is designed to test the overall Soldier and award the title to individuals who will serve as ambassadors for the Army.
The selection board, composed of six senior sergeants major from across the Army and chaired by Preston, will evaluate competitors on appearance, military bearing and knowledge of critical Army topics.
"We are given clear guidance from the sergeant major of the Army," said Williams. "This competition is not to mimic any other competition out there because we are testing the whole Soldier and ultimately choosing Soldiers who can easily go out and represent the Army in the community."
Last year, two Soldiers from the reserve component were awarded the prestigious title and made multiple appearances on behalf of the Army. Based on their experiences and other competitors' comments, the Best Warrior planning team has made improvements and added surprises for this year's warriors.
Williams said many great lessons were learned from last year's events and Soldiers should appreciate the relevancy and realistic nature of this year's competition. The planning cell doesn't want to give away all the secrets, but Williams did say the equipment issued to Soldiers is one big difference.
"This year we are giving the competitors the same equipment they would take to war," said Williams. "The gear that they are going to be issued will reflect what they would receive if they were going into a combat environment."
In addition, the planning cell has worked hard to ensure the look, feel and experience of the competition is as close to real-world as possible. Everything from weapons to the time of day and the look of the battlefield was taken into consideration.
The planning for a competition this large takes a lot of advanced preparation and a tremendous amount of support from many organizations.
"The competition has been labor-intensive," said Williams. "We go home on the weekend thinking about what we need to get done on Monday. (Everyone involved) has been working hard and I know they are looking forward to the competition getting underway.
"I think this year's competition will be a step above last year and next year will probably be a step above that. Hopefully the warriors will leave here with their heads held high and ready to go train their units."
For more information on this year's Best Warrior competition, visit the Web site at <a href="http://www.army.mil/bestwarrior/2009" target=_blank>www.army.mil/bestwarrior/2009</a>.