FORT A.P. HILL, Va. (Oct. 7, 2015) -- Many obstacles on the course were new to competitors, some citing that they had to improvise rather than rely on practiced techniques.

Sgt. 1st Class Jesse K. Murray, an infantryman representing U.S. Army Africa, is a second-year competitor.

Murray, also a former drill sergeant, said, "None of the other competitions I've participated in have had all-out obstacle courses such as this."

Some difficult obstacles recognized by the contenders on the NCO course were the incline wall, weaver, ladder and pull, up and over, tough-nut and the vault.

Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Simpson, a special bandsman assigned to the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own", representing U.S. Army Military District of Washington, said that though he did not feel comfortable at the start of his journey into the Best Warrior Competition, he has already had some training experience at Fort A.P. Hill. Simpson hopes this might give him a slight advantage over the others.

"I definitely felt a bit like a fish out of water. It was me and a bunch of infantry guys and MPs (Military Police)," said Simpson. "I found out after the first day or two that we were all just Soldiers."

Immediately following the obstacle course, the participants were put to the test for a mystery event. Within a camouflaged shelter, the competitors were tasked with assembling a M4 Carbine rifle, M249 squad automatic weapon and a M9 pistol from a box of mixed parts.
Later in the day Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, the 15th sergeant major of the Army, meet with the competitors.

"There's a whole lot of soldiers who aren't here, but you are," Dailey said. "It's because you care, because you want to go the extra distance, and I know that and appreciate it."
Dailey's goal was not only to motivate the soldiers, but also to ensure that they know why they're here.

"This competition needs to reinforce those base soldier skills, and that's the critical importance of it," said Dailey.

Not long after the sergeant major of the Army's brief, the competitors were transported to the wet, muddy forest areas of Fort A.P. Hill to perform a day and a night land navigation course.

The BWC's purpose is to not only emphasize that all Soldiers must meet basic Soldiering standards, by highlighting those who exceed the standards, but also to promote morale and cohesion within the participating commands.

Within the 13 U.S. Army commands participating there are 26 competitors, all of whom intend to be named NCO of the Year or Soldier of the Year.