FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The winner of U.S. Army Security Assistance Command's 2017 Best Warrior Competition and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Joaquin Spikes, demonstrated the type of Soldier he is in the very first event. But not just by winning. After completing his first task, he walked over and began helping one of his competitors -- and that set the tone for the entire competition.

Spikes, a communications adviser for USASAC's subordinate unit, the Security Assistance Training Management Organization, acknowledged the importance of teamwork during the competition and the ultimate goal of becoming a better Soldier.

"We went into this together and pushed each other to the next level," he said, as he accepted a statue of Mars, the Roman God of War from Master Sgt. Robert Summerlin, USA-SATMO operation sergeant major and organizer of the competition, on June 15.

Summerlin also emphasized the esprit de corps the three competitors showed throughout the four days of physical and mental challenges.

"They demonstrated the Army values, especially leadership and selfless service," he said.

Spikes' competitors, Sgt. 1st Class Divon Smith and Staff Sgt. Tara Sorrell, come from combat arms and administrative backgrounds respectively, and represent the diverse expertise that is a hallmark of USA-SATMO, which provides tailored security assistance teams to build sustainable partner nation capacity and strengthen U.S. global partnerships in support of the Army Materiel Command security assistance enterprise through the Foreign Military Sales and Foreign Military Financing programs.

"Our trainers are generally at the E-7 level and are experts in their fields," Summerlin said. "But that also means that during the competition they encountered skills tests they may not have seen recently. So it is my job to ensure they can master the task and compete at the next level."

Those tasks ranged from medical response and mock media interviews, to combatives, land navigation and weapons proficiency. According to Summerlin, they were most evenly matched during the most physical tests, and only showed differences in the more specialized events.

"The most challenging for all was probably the executive board," he admitted.

Col. Andy Boston, USA-SATMO commander, lauded the competition as an effective tool for organizational talent management.

"By sponsoring this type of event you are giving your high performers a chance to prove what they really can do and gain even more knowledge and skills," Boston said.

At the Best Warrior award dinner, he related a story about a similar battalion level competition in 1988 in Germany, where two sergeants competed on two separate teams from the same company. The battalion command sergeant major noticed their performance, took a personal interest and challenged them to do even better and to stretch themselves as Soldiers and leaders.

"Both myself and that other sergeant are now colonels, so the point is that talent has to be identified, nurtured and challenged. These types of competitions are great tools for units and leaders to recognize potential and provide guidance and opportunities," Boston said.

Spikes said he will continue to train and improve his skills in preparation for the next contest, Army Materiel Command's Best Warrior Competition at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, July 16-18. There he will compete against NCOs from AMC's other major subordinate commands.