FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (Army News Service, Aug. 11, 2008) -- To see her walking through the halls of the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command headquarters, she looks like an average noncommissioned officer.

But Sgt. Lisa Morales, command post node team chief, Company A, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, has proven she is more than average.

"She's the first Soldier from NETCOM to win at the U.S. Army Forces Command level throughout our history of competing," said Command Sgt. Maj. Donald G. Manley, NETCOM's senior enlisted Soldier. "She is also the first female noncommissioned officer to win FORSCOM NCO of the Year."

Manley said he learned from sergeants major that participated at the FORSCOM board at Fort Hood, Texas, that Morales had done "exceptionally well" there, and "represented (NETCOM) with the utmost professionalism."

"We are all extremely proud of her and what she has accomplished thus far," Manley said.

Morales' recent success at FORSCOM level represents the sixth win in a string of competitions that will culminate at the Department of the Army level.

Each competition thus far tested Morales' mettle in such areas as physical training, land navigation, warrior tasks, written essays, written tests and oral boards.

Morales said she is proud to be able to represent her unit and all signal Soldiers and sees the competitions as a step forward in her career.

"These competitions push both Soldiers and NCOs to their limits, both mentally and physically," she said. "We are able to increase our depth of military knowledge and basic skills. We learn our values and strengths through competitions such as these. We are better at the culmination of the competition whether we win or lose due to the mental and physical preparation we put forth to prepare to compete."

Along with challenging herself, Morales said she encourages her troops to enter the competitions as well.

"It develops the Soldier and gives them the skills to lead when they become NCOs," she said. "They need to be able to lead in all aspects of being a Soldier, and these competitions reinforce the total Soldier concept and develop stronger, more disciplined leaders."

After a brief stay back at her home station here, Morales will head to Fort Jackson, S.C. for additional weapons and warrior drills training.

The next level of competition is the Department of the Army level. That level of competition runs Sept. 28 through Oct. 4 at Fort Lee, Va.

"I will be constantly studying and preparing both mentally and physically," she said. "It is an honor to represent NETCOM and Forces Command as the first female NCO of the Year for both organizations. I feel so proud and accomplished to have been able to make it this far in the competition."