Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
1 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Elizabeth Ramirez, a mental health specialist with Headquarters Company, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, carries a water can during a stress shoot at the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 27, 2015, at Camp Smith Tr... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
2 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pfc. Vincente Torres, a soldier with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, stops for a moment to have his ruck fixed during final ruck march event on the last day of the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 29, 2015, a... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
3 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Elizabeth Ramirez, a mental health specialist with Headquarters Company, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, starts the last leg of the final ruck march event on the last day of the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 2... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
4 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. Irving Gutierrez, a systems repairer with the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, finishes the final ruck march event on the last day of the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 29, 2015, at Camp Smith Training Site near ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
5 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Adilia Murillo, a military police Soldier with the 107th MP Company, kicks off for the 100 m. swim in full uniform during the annual New York Army National Guarfd Best Warrior Competition March 26, 2015, at Camp Smith Training Site, near Peeksk... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
6 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers participating in the New York Army National Guard's annual Best Warrior competition engage targest with the M9 pistol March 27, 2015, at Camp Smith Training Site, near Peekskill, N.Y. The pistol was added to the competition so Soldiers coul... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
7 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier tows a simulated casualty to the next station during the stress shoot event at the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 27, 2015, at Camp Smith, N.Y. During the stress shoot event the competitors had to hit a... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers compete for Best Warrior and German Army Badge
8 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Nolte, a member of the 107th Military Police Company sends a round downrange during the stress shoot at the annual New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition March 27, 2015, at Camp Smith, N.Y. ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. - Eleven New York Army National Guard Soldiers were the first to compete for both US and German awards during the New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition here, March 25-30.

During the hybrid five-day competition, Soldiers not only navigated difficult terrain and challenging temperatures, but adapted to new events that allowed them to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, the only foreign badge allowed to be worn by US Army National Guard Soldiers.

"We seized the opportunity to conduct hybrid training to further recognize and reward Soldiers' efforts who were outside of the winners circle for Best Warrior," explained Maj. John B. McBride, New York Army National Guard Operations Officer for 53d Troop Command. "This also provided junior Soldiers the ability to see firsthand how we work with our NATO partners."

The German proficiency badge is a military decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is awarded in gold, silver or bronze and is comprised of eight physically demanding events. Five events reflect varying levels of military training including a 100 meters swim in uniform, first aid, Nuclear Biological Chemical, pistol qualifications and a timed road march; and three events in basic fitness including 11 10m sprints, flexed arm hang and a 1000m run.

"I'm proud that New York is paving the way with the addition of the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge to the Best Warrior Competition," said New York State Command Sgt. Maj. Louis E. Wilson who helped coordinate and run this year's competition.

During the closing remarks of the competition, Wilson emphasized how crucial year-over-year change and diversification in Army training is to the long-term success of our Soldiers. He noted that this class had more females and minorities than last year, and how we train is just as important as who completes the training.

"Diversity is what we're about; diversity is what it's all about," he said.

The Best Warrior Competition events, which also tested physical fitness, military knowledge, endurance, marksmanship and land navigation skills, yielded two winners who will advanced to the regional level, and awarded five out of the eleven competitors the German proficiency badge.

The winners, Staff Sgt. Christian Hager and Spc. Michael Rowland, continuously displayed their physical toughness and the drive required to outperform their peers throughout the competition, McBride said.

Both winners earned silver in the German proficiency badge and the opportunity to represent the New York Army National Guard at the Northeast Regional Best Warrior Competition in May at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts .

Hager, a resident of Batavia, New York who plans to attend Army Ranger School next year, is an infantry Soldier in Company A, 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Battalion, and was selected as the Non-commissioned Officer of the year.

He has been in the National Guard for more than six years and credited his dedication to the military as well as his unit's strong leadership for helping him to achieve this level of success.

"My unit sets a high standard for training that challenges me to succeed, and that's helped me to focus and be prepared for any situation during the competition," Hager said. "I love to train and the National Guard pays me to do it - what could be better!"

Rowland, a resident of Glens Falls, New York and a human resources specialist with the 501st Ordinance Battalion, an explosive ordnance disposal unit, was recognized as the Junior Enlisted Soldier of the year.

Rowland, who has only served in the National Guard for 20 months, said he continually tries to maximize his time in the military by actively seeking out advice and jumping at the chance to take on additional challenges.

"I followed my mentor's advice: to stay focused on the current task and perform at the best of my ability," Rowland said. "I knew with this competition I needed to take it one day at a time, one event at a time."

Since the German fitness events are not mirrored in standard Army training, both Hager and Rowland had to adapt their current training regiments to be able to perform the German proficiency badge events at a high skill level.

Hager said this was an entirely new aspect of physical fitness for him that took time to build and has since made him a better overall Soldier.

Rowland commented that earning silver was "bittersweet" since he missed gold by only one event, but he's extremely proud of the accomplishment and will continue to try and improve his scores to eventually retest for gold.

The positive effects of hybrid competitions reach far beyond the current event.

"Hybrid competitions allow us to provide a relatively low cost solution to providing high-value and high-reward training and competitions for our Soldiers," McBride said.

"The success of this year's competition will allow Soldiers to showcase their unique accomplishments in their formations, building both awareness and morale," he said.

Related Links:

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs

NY Guardsmen score big in Best Warrior Competition

NY National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeff Dorvee, a Queensbury resident, wins in Northeast Region competition

New York Army National Guard troops earn German Military Proficiency Badge

Best Warrior Competition