By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff Writer June 7, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Headquarters Command Battalion Staff Sgt. Pablo Robledo was one of 36 soldiers who participated in the 2013 Joint Base San Antonio Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Bullis, Texas, May 11 to 17.
Robledo represented the United States Army Installation Management Command's (IMCOM) Atlantic region. To qualify, the staff sergeant engaged in IMCOM-level board interviews, PT (physical training) tests, the Army PRT (physical readiness training) program and weapons qualifications. IMCOM's Atlantic region includes more than 40 Army and joint installations on the eastern seaboard.
"The experience was awesome, and I'm ready for it next year. I want it," Robledo said. "It was a very, very rigorous training. It was almost like a war-like environment."
After in-processing and an orientation, the usual physical and mental routine of the JBM-HH's S-4 battalion prevention leader, building coordinator and approving official was thrown right out the window.
The competition started with a 4:30 a.m. PT test, and Robledo and other soldiers withstood drills which included a timed 12-mile rucksack march with 50-pound loads, weapons qualifications, day and night land navigation, combative matches, obstacle course runs and stress shooting.
"That was my very first stress fire," he said. "You're basically running to get your heart rate up, and while your heart rate is up and you are tired, you have to engage targets. You run with your M-4 for a mile, and you shoot at targets."
While the competition was physically challenging, mental aptitudes were also confronted.
"You had an [oral] board [review], an essay and a [written] test to do," Robledo explained. "You get minimal sleep. I pretty much had to eat in increments, too. You get your breakfast, lunch and dinner, but at times you had to do a MRE [meal ready-to-eat], and you had to choose wisely when to eat."
The competition was scored by standard times assigned to each event or drill. If a soldier exceeded or surpassed the standard time, they received points. If the benchmark on an interview, exam or drill was not met, no points were earned.
As the physical and mental engagements continued, soldiers bonded through the late nights and early mornings.
"We all go in there knowing it is a competition - competing against each other, but it becomes automatic to help each other out - to push each other," Robledo said. "You can never leave a brother back - no matter what. We knew we were competing against each other, but it became the idea that all of us were competing against the [obstacle] course and competing against time."