EASTOVER, S.C. -- Classes begin early at Camp McCrady for the Soldiers learning the skills necessary to compete in the USARC Best Warrior Competition.

Master Sgt. Morrison, 108th Training Command (IET) said, "Once these Soldiers complete these train-up classes they will be more prepared when they continue on to the USARC competition next."

They are trained on how to use, break down and put a variety of weapons together to include the 50 CAL Machine Gun, M16, M240B, 9MM, and the SAW. Instructions expand on non-lethal weapons explaining using weapons in your tool box and the appropriate tool for any given situation.

"We are not suppose to use any tools to disassemble or assemble the weapons," said Spc. Russell Williams, 1/417th 3rd Bde., 98th Training Division (IET). "When using a new weapon it is a pain and these hand guards are hard to remove. The old weapons are better, but there will probably be new ones at the competition so we have to train with the new one." Williams is from Westville, South Jersey.

Selected CTT Skill Level Task are also taught, such as protecting yourself from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) injury or contamination with the JLIST Chemical-Protective Ensemble, communicate by sending Spot (SPOTREP) and Situation (SITREP) Reports, operate SINCGARS, LACE, 9 Line, and dagger and compass training.

"It is fun to do. We do not get to do a lot of these task skills quickly. Dagger is not something we do and being a drill sergeant, from my standpoint, it keeps you up-to-date," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Allen, 2nd Bde., 98th Division (IET).

Allen graduated from the Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, S.C., a year ago. "I was a small arms instructor and before that, I was a recruiter for three years on active duty. When I got out, I became a detective in New York for two years and now a cop at Folly Beach, Charleston, S.C."
It is called the "Petting Zoo", but do not pet anything in this zoo. They are Implosive and Vehicle Improvised Devices, known as IEDs and VBIEDs.

The Soldiers completed a round robin demonstration of the nine principles of what to look for and what to do if encountering any of these. Most of them are simple, which is better for the enemy, but vigilance and observation is what this training is all about, winning hearts and minds.
"This is simulated convoy operations, rolling out on missions, calling in 9-line medi-vacs, and helping to recognize any dangers such as IEDs and VBIEDs. This is very important and more difficult under fire so these Soldiers should study the 9-line medi-vacs on their own, in addition to this training. Practice makes perfect," said Drill Sergeant Brett McCall.
With the addition of the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer (RTTV) convoy simulation training is more realistic.

"I was helping with the Task Force Marshall mission and was asked to help with the Best Warrior train-up," said Sgt. 1st Class James Powers. "I feel the training for the Soldiers for Best Warrior Training is more realistic, especially the RTTV training before going on convoys."
Each Soldier had their own individual sponsor to assist them. Allen's sponsor was encouraged by the training given to the Soldiers.

"The First Aide, STXX Lanes, and everything these Soldiers have been given during this training will be helpful. Allen is doing good and being a cop should be a plus," agrees Sgt. 1st Class Robert Minett, 1/321st, 98th Division (IET).
All in all it was good training in a short period of time. These Soldiers were given the tools and information needed to compete.

"These Soldiers are doing good in such a short period of time. We have given them the ability to use hands-on with the RTTV convoy simulation and the dismantling and assembly of weapons. We have given them the information they need to help them," McCall concluded.