'Best Warrior' winners named at AUSA conference

By David VergunOctober 21, 2015

'Best Warrior' winners named at AUSA conference
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, far left, and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, far right, present the Soldier of the Year award to Spc. Jared R. Tansley, assigned to U.S. Army Europe, and the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2015) -- Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink, assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Command, has been named the Army's noncommissioned officer, or NCO, of the year while Spc. Jared R. Tansley, assigned to U.S. Army Europe, has been named Soldier of the year.

The announcement was made during the 2015 Best Warrior Competition Awards Ceremony at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12.

"It's a great day to be a Soldier," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said. "Thank God we have Soldiers like the ones that are going to be recognized here today."

Dailey said he was referring to all 24 NCOs and Soldiers from 13 commands across the Army, who started competing a week ago on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, for the titles of best NCO and best Soldier.

During the event, the Soldiers were always being watched and graded and the competition was stiff, Dailey said. Their final event was participation in the Army Ten-Miler at the Pentagon, Oct. 11. On average, the Soldiers ran about a 6:30 mile run, said Dailey, who joined them on the race.


Following the awards ceremony, Fink and Tansley both said the entire competition was exhausting, they're glad it's over and they are pleased to have been selected as the top competitors.

Fink wears the Ranger Tab and Tansley is an infantryman, so they are no strangers to arduous training. Their backgrounds and previous training as Soldiers made their assessment of the competition that much more significant.

Both said the most difficult portion of the competition was the rucksack march. Fink noted that because he's shorter than most, he had to run to keep up with the pack and finish with a good time.

Fink said being an NCO is an awesome experience because he can be an inspiration to his troops. This competition will further help his being an inspiration to his troops, he said.

Fink is a special operations combat medic platoon sergeant with the 409th Area Support Medical Company. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan while on active duty. Later, he joined the Reserve. He hails from Cook, Minnesota, and holds a bachelor's of science degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. He said he plans to make the Army a career.

The best part about winning the competition, Tansley said, "is that now I'm now an example within my unit and squadron for fellow Soldiers and someone my leaders can rely on."

Tansley serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry. He's been in the Army since April 2013 and said he plans to continue serving as long as he can. Tansley hails from Sycamore, Illinois.


Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the keynote speaker during the ceremony, said future operations will be more complex than any in the past, and it's important for Best Warrior competitors and all Soldiers to keep in mind the lessons learned throughout the last 14 years of warfare and pass that knowledge on to the new generation of Soldiers coming in.

"Win in a Complex World" is the foundation of how the Army thinks about future combat operations, Allyn said. It's the thesis of the Army Operating Concept, designed to lead an intellectual change for the Army. "It acknowledges that our nation cannot predict who it will fight, where it will fight or with what coalition it will fight."

Future operations in complex environments require the Army to develop small-unit leaders capable of decentralized operations, he continued. These are leaders who thrive in uncertainty, adapt in their environment and take prudent risks based on the commander's intent.

This places high demands on every Soldier, down to the squad level, he said, meaning junior Soldiers and NCOs will be tasked with much greater responsibility than ever before.

Allyn then provided real-world examples of how young Soldiers are taking this on, such as providing valuable feedback of new systems at the Network Integration Evaluation on Fort Bliss, Texas; and, operating in remote areas of Africa thousands of miles from their headquarters.

"Soldiers and NCOs make our Army the greatest land force in history." he said. "The competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to our Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos and represent the force of our future."


- Runner-up NCO of the Year: Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Simpson, U.S. Army Military District of Washington

- Third place NCO of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Elijah Howlett, U.S. Army Europe

- Runner-up Soldier of the Year: Spc. Cruser R. Barnes, U.S. Army National Guard

- Third place Soldier of the Year: Spc. Emanuel L. Moore, U.S. Army Special Operations Command


Master Sgt. Michelle Johnson, the sergeant major of the Army's public affairs advisor, said that during this year's Best Warrior competition, three new awards were created that highlight both physical fitness and weapons qualification.


One Soldier and one NCO stood out above the rest in the weapons qualification event, Johnson said. Their task was to run to barricades and engage as many pop-up targets as possible in the shortest amount of time, using three types of weapons.

The NCO "Top Gun" was Howlett. The Soldier Top Gun was Spc. Shane Sital, assigned to the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.


The Army Physical Fitness Test was modified to an extended point scale to gauge the toughest NCO and Soldier, Johnson said. With a score of 316, this year's "Iron NCO" was Sgt. Michael Hooks, assigned to the U.S. Army Pacific Command. With a score of 321, the Iron Soldier was Tansley.


Before beginning a 12-mile road march with a 35-pound pack for Soldiers and a 45-pound pack for NCOs, the troops were "shown several items," Johnson said. Their task was to be on the lookout for those items as they marched. "So, not only did they have to be fast, they had to be agile and alert."

With a time of 2 hours and 13 minutes, the "NCO Road March" champion was Sgt. Robert Cunningham, assigned to the Army National Guard. And, with a time of 2 hours and 11 minutes, the Soldier Road March champion was Moore.

To Be Best Warrior

Related Links:

Army News Service

Dailey explains changes to Best Warrior competition

Best Warrior Competition

Army.mil: Inside the Army News

STAND-TO!: The U.S. Army Operating Concept

STAND-TO!: Network Integration Evaluation 16.1