U.S. Army Europe's Best Warrior Competition marches on
Spc. Ethan Esposito, Joint Multinational Training Command, fires his M4 carbine rifle during United States Army Europe's Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany, July 31.

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - The race to be named the "Best Warrior" in Europe is underway as USAREUR tests its best and brightest noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers during the Best Warrior Competition at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

During day two of the four-day competition, participants were faced with night and day land navigation, weapons qualifications and medical simulations training.

"It was a lot of hard work to get where I am. It's a big event, you're competing to be the best in all of Europe," said Sgt. 1st Class Jesus M. Arellano of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "It says a lot for all the Soldiers that are here."

The medical training included combat lifesaver skills, with a standard of providing emergency trauma care and to apply dressings to field casualties.

According to Staff Sgt. Jermaine L. Barkley, trainer at USAREUR's Joint Multinational Training Command, when a Soldier applies the proper treatment, a wounded warrior has a 70-90 percent survival rate from battlefield injuries.

JMTC planners kept in mind the current combat environment and tried to anticipate skills that would challenge the best noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers. This year, planners made changes to the marksmanship portion of the competition. The stress shoot, an event planned for day three is designed with shoot-and-don't shoot scenarios, interspersed between up-hill and down-hill sprints and math equations.

"The stress shoot is designed with physically demanding tasks that elevate the heart rate, and also requires target discrimination," said Lt. Col. William F. Brockman, chief of operations at the JMTC. "You don't just shoot at any silhouette."

There are two targets, the standard 9-millimeter silhouettes and targets with shapes numbers and colors, he said.

"It is going to force the competitor to think under duress because they are running against a stop clock, while doing very physically challenging events," Brockman said. "It's going to start off with a 400 meter run. Competitors execute the water can relay with two full water cans, weaving back and forth between interspersed cones -- then, they fire from the prone position unsupported."

The competitors have 10 rounds and two magazines. The odds are against them, Brockman said.

The competitors are being graded on their performance, but many are making it a personal challenge to improve personally.

"I'm going to be the smallest, shortest, lightest one," said Sgt. Erin A. Van Maanem, with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and the only female participant. "I'm looking forward to that combative tournament [day four]."

For the nine noncommissioned officers and nine junior enlisted Soldiers battling to be the best, the opportunity to compete in the Army-wide competition at Fort Lee, Va., Oct. 15-18 is on their mind.

"The guy or gal that gets picked to go to the big Army competition and compete for DA [Department of the Army] is one tough individual, mentally, physically, emotionally. It's not easy," Arellano said. "There are a lot of things you have to do during the four days and to stay motivated throughout is tough."

Follow competitors as they progress through the challenging events at http://www.eur.army.mil/BestWarrior.

Page last updated Wed August 1st, 2012 at 00:00