JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska-- The United States Army Alaska Best Warrior Competition was held May 2-6, 2016 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Both a Soldier and a noncommissioned officer from 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division steam-rolled the competition in winning both the junior-enlisted and NCO competitions.
Spc. Ashley Reeser, a 22-year-old Fallon, Nevada native and human intelligence collector with 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion (Airborne), competed as the competition's only female Soldier. Reeser said she realized early on that the Best Warrior Competition wasn't just a competition, it was a chance to represent the airborne community in the best training she'd ever had.
"There wasn't a real competition between us paratroopers and the other brigades represented," said Reeser. "However, we all wanted Airborne to come out on top. This is our home station."
The USARAK Best Warrior Competition consisted of 13 noncommissioned officers competing against one another as well as 13 junior enlisted Soldiers from across all units in USARAK to see who would have the opportunity to be chosen to represent the command at the U.S. Army Pacific Best Warrior Competition slated for later this year.
Events included a full layout of required gear, an Army Physical Fitness Test, M4 Carbine qualification and stress shoot, testing of hands-on skill levels one and two tasks, a written exam, combatives, an obstacle course, a land navigation course and a sergeant major board.
Sgt. Paul Rajan, a 26-year-old Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania native and combat medic with 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, said that the board was extremely challenging.
"The hardest part was the anticipation of the board," said Rajan. "I've been on a board with five sergeants major before; I just had to remember to watch what I said and how I looked. I wanted to do my best."
Reeser said she considered the competition to be training because of the opportunity to handle equipment she's never used before. She recently finished a 10-month deployment in Kosovo and a month training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana with the Brigade.
After JRTC she and her sponsor spent a month training for the competition. Every day they worked on physical training, taking weapons apart and putting them back together, land navigation, studying for the board with flash cards and conducting mock boards. Reeser did so well on the APFT that she was scored on the extended scale, meaning she scored over the normal maximum score of 300 points.
"The easiest part of the competition was the APFT" said Reeser. "I knew I was going to score a 300, and was hoping I could use the extra points from the extended scale later in the competition on one of my weaker events."
Rajan agreed that the APFT was easy to him as well adding that the Army trains Monday through Friday and doing well was second nature.
Both Reeser and Rajan were declared the winners May 6 after a grueling board with sergeants major from across USARAK to include USARAK Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Ferrusi.
"I am quite honored to represent my unit," said Rajan. "When I earned my way to the top three at that moment, I felt obligated to win the competition for the brigade, and now for USARAK."