Fort Benning Soldiers aim for Best Warrior
May 16, 2012
By NATHAN DEEN
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 16, 2012) -- The 2012 Best Warrior competition got under way Monday as 16 Soldiers endure a four-day event that will determine the Maneuver Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year, NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year.
All three will be announced Friday at an awards ceremony at the Benning Conference Center, and each winner will have the opportunity to represent the MCoE at the TRADOC level competitions.
The Soldiers fought temperatures in the 80s during Monday's main event -- the Urban Maneuver Orienteering Course. Three Soldiers are competing for Drill Sergeant of the Year, four are competing for Soldier of the Year and nine are competing for the NCO title.
"This year we tried to match it up with TRADOC to allow MCoE competitors to be better prepared," said Staff Sgt. John Gaboury of MCoE operations and one of the event's coordinators.
For the urban orienteering course, the competitors were given coordinates to a location, which they had to navigate using a defense advanced GPS receiver. When they arrived at the location, they were assigned a task to complete -- such as map relaying or combatives -- that demonstrated their technical knowledge and physical strength.
"It stinks not knowing what you're going to have to do until you get out there," said Staff Sgt. William Klinger of the 194th Armored Brigade, who is competing for Drill Sergeant of the Year. "But it makes you study a lot more and be a lot more well-rounded."
Upon completion, Soldiers received coordinates to their next task -- five tasks in all that were scattered throughout Main Post. The event took some six miles and three-and-a-half hours to complete.
"I feel like I just got out of a really hot bath," said Staff Sgt. Steven Ealy, who was the first to complete the event. "I was good with the DAGR. It's extremely useful, especially if you can't use a compass and a map."
Ealy said he thought the most physically challenging part of the event for him was the 199th Infantry Brigade obstacle course near Lawson Army Airfield.
"I walked over a mile at a brisk pace and then they said, 'Drop your stuff and do these obstacles as fast as you can,'" he said.
Tuesday's events included a land navigation course, combat qualification and evaluation of medical tasks at the Medical Simulation Training Center in Martin Army Community Hospital.
Today, Soldiers will take a written exam, followed by a hands-on physical readiness test and then a mystery event selected by the Maneuver Center of Excellence.