By David VergunSeptember 29, 2016
FORT A.P. Hill, Va. (Army News Service) -- "We've got to get away from traditional training and get more realistic training like this," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey at the Best Warrior Competition Wednesday, Sept. 28.
During the competition, Soldiers encountered live fire, multiple enemy threats and casualties needing assistance. The Soldiers had to remove all threats and treat and evacuate the casualties. The event was so realistic that the dummy casualties were streaming blood and talking to the Soldiers, saying they're hurting, and afraid of dying.
As he watched during this event, Dailey, himself a combat veteran, described the rush of thoughts that will run through the head of a Soldier experiencing either real combat or this type of realistic training.
"A casualty is telling them they're hurting and feeling fear," Dailey said. "With the urgency of the situation, every second that ticks by [the Soldier is] thinking, 'This is taking way too long. What's the enemy situation like? What's the threat? I just killed a bunch of enemy targets right in front of me and are there more coming? I'm out here by myself. I need to get help and reinforcements. I have to get my battlefield buddy to safety quickly.'"
Spc. Joseph Broam, representing the Army National Guard, said the event just described was very stressful. "You have to think rationally, rather than letting your nerves get to you. Sometimes you've got to think through the process rather than try to think step-by-step, so you don't forget anything. Sometimes it gets the best of you. Sometimes you think you're moving too slow, sometimes slow is smooth and smooth is fast."
Some units get to participate in this kind of realistic training on a regular basis, but for most units, the event is a rare opportunity, he said.
"Adding stress into training like this is good, because whenever Soldiers get into situations like this, they're not freaking out when they're looking at a Soldier that's bleeding with his arm off," Broam added.
Staff Sgt. Dirk Omerzo, also Army National Guard, called the event and the rest of the Best Warrior training "awesome."
In all his years of Army training, he said he's "never applied a tourniquet to a talking dummy with blood."
Spc. Daniel Guenther, U.S. Army Europe, described his own actions during the event:
"I moved the casualty because I heard incoming rounds. You want to engage your enemies and make sure all enemies are down before you can save him. And after that, give life-saving care and get him out of there. Then I got on the radio to call the bird out [medevac helicopter].
Staff Sgt. Andrew Crump, Army Cyber Command, said he served in Iraq, but he has never before experienced this type of training. He believes it should be available at all levels of the competitions, he said, not just at the Department of the Army level.
Staff Sgt. Ethan Rogers, also from U.S. Army Europe, said he experienced something similar to this when one of his buddies was shot in the face in Afghanistan. "It's difficult focusing on the casualty and the targets at the same time," he said.
The Army can make training like this "realistic, challenging, as well as fun simultaneously," Dailey said during a break in the event. "That's what you want Soldiers to do, to be excited about training.
"You want them to want to do these things," he continued. "We're not only assessing their ability to do the tasks, but their ability to think constructively on their own, independently." This event and others like it give Soldiers the ability "to think on the move and to find creative solutions."
The likelihood of being alone on the battlefield -- like in this event -- is probably very unlikely, but there is always that possibility, he continued. Soldiers can get ambushed in scenarios like this, and when that happens, "you're expected to do things on your own. You never know what situation you're going to be in."
MORE ABOUT BEST WARRIOR
Soldiers here at Best Warrior are competing for NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year. The results will be announced Monday, Oct. 3, at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday was day three of the five-day competition. Thus far, the Soldiers have been tested by multiple shooting events, casualty treatment and evacuation, day and night land navigation, the Army Physical Fitness Test, essay writing, an obstacle course and a buddy run.
The Best Warrior competition organizers will not reveal who is ahead in points or what events the next two days will bring.