By Ms. Adriane Elliot (OPMSANG)July 6, 2016
Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Garcia is one step closer to competing in the "Super Bowl" of Army competitions.
On June 17, the 32-year-old infantryman was named the winner of the Best Warrior Competition for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization, a subordinate organization of U.S. Army Security Assistance Command.
Garcia serves as a combat infantry advisor for America's international partners. He has trained and advised foreign military members in Liberia and Khazahkstan as part of USASAC's foreign military sales program.
Although the Best Warrior is a grueling competition, Garcia excelled in every area, thanks in part to his military occupational specialty.
"My MOS is infantry so I was comfortable with most of the events. Some of them--like disassembling, reassembling and conducting function checks on weapons--was like second nature," said Garcia, who will mark 14 years on active duty this September.
Garcia is referred to as a fast-tracker in military jargon, meaning he moved up very rapidly to attain rank and accomplishments throughout his career.
Master Sgt. Justin Hood is the USASATMO operations sergeant major and the organizer for the three-day competition. He described Garcia as an exceptional Soldier, who just happens to be a former Ranger School instructor, Pathfinder, Airborne, Air Assault, "one of those guys who is highly confident in his abilities."
"Even on your best day, he is one that one will always manage to be one step ahead," said Hood, noting that Garcia remains humble despite the accolades.
Garcia dominated the contest against fellow competitor and USASATMO battle buddy Sgt. 1st Class Joaquin Spikes in events that included a written exam, weapons qualification, media event, various Warrior tasks, 12-mile ruck march, board, land navigation and obstacle course.
The Fresno, Calif. native will go on to represent USASAC at the AMC-level competition July 7-9 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. This will be a final trial to determine if he has what it takes to battle it out against the Army's elite at the DA-level contest at Fort A. P. Hill, Va., Sept. 26-Oct. 3.
Despite doing overwhelmingly well at the USASAC level, Garcia continues to train and examine his flaws for improvement.
The Army Best Warrior competition is administered by the Department of the Army as a means of recognizing Soldiers in its Active, Special Operations, National Guard and Reserve components. Each year, each participating command sends their best enlisted Soldier and NCOs to represent their units.
In spite of stiff competition, Hood has no doubt Garcia can win both the AMC and Army contests to nab the title of NCO of the Year. The winners, both NCO and Soldier of the Year, will receive prestigious honors and awards and represent the Army at special events throughout the year.
"It's a great way for competitors to see how they measure up against their peers, and I know Garcia can go all the way."
Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey will oversee the Army event, now in its 15th year. Participants will be tested on aptitude through board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams, urban warfare simulations and other tasks relevant to the Army's operating environment.
Last year's Army Best Warrior competition was revamped and moved to Fort A.P. Hill.
The change in venue--from Fort Lee, Va., where it had been held for 13 years, to Fort A.P. Hill--provides a more difficult terrain, one that better simulates the battlefield environment.
Other new and improved features include distractions and more realistic situations.
Previous competitors may have been asked to assemble a weapon to complete one station before conducting first aid at the next station. The modified rules merge multiple tasks. For example, a Soldier may be asked to disassemble and reassemble a weapon while simultaneously executing a casualty evacuation and administering first aid--a more authentic scenario than in previous contests.
"There is a level of toughness, a degree of competition, that clearly demonstrates what that Soldier or NCO is all about," said Hood, " and with Garcia moving forward in the competition, "it shows that service members who are selected for the USASATMO mission are the best of the best that the Army has to offer."