FORT A.P. Hill, Va. -- Army Best Warrior Competitions are designed to test the mettle of those who compete in them, physically and mentally, throughout a week-long series of events.

The 2017 U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Best Warrior Competition was certainly no exception as noncommissioned officers (NCO) and Soldiers from military intelligence brigades around the globe descended on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, to compete against hot, hazy weather, grueling events and one another, in the annual competition July 24-28.

Sgt. Kevin Beuse, of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and Spc. Johnny Long, of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade conquered the challenging environment and outperformed their peers to emerge as INSCOM's Best Warriors.

The competition began with an Army physical fitness test just after dawn, July 24, and culminated with a four-member panel board comprised of three sergeants major and a first sergeant at INSCOM headquarters, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, four days later. During the time in between those two relatively tranquil events, a whirlwind of situational training and competition-based trials were executed at a breakneck pace.

Throughout the week, the Soldiers took part in a series of tasks and events which included an obstacle course, weapons system qualifications, day and night land navigation, a combative tournament, simulated urban operations and a 12-mile road march. The events came in mostly rapid succession with a bit of chow or a fleeting night's rest in between them.

Every event in the competition was designed and executed in a way that kept the competitors on their toes, pushing through their building exhaustion, according to one of its architects, 1st Sgt. Peter Novak, Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), INSCOM.

"These competitions are never easy," Novak said. "But with this year's iteration of Best Warrior, we really wanted to push the op-tempo and see how these NCO's and Soldiers would respond."

Novak added that INSCOM was out to "smash the stigma out there that military intelligence Soldiers don't have the tactical skills and training to compete and win" these types of competitions.

"I'm expecting big things from our Best Warriors," he said, in reference to the next level of competition for the winners.

The victors moved on to the U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER)/Military District of Washington Best Warrior Competition held in late August on Fort Belvoir.

Beuse, an intelligence analyst and Colorado Springs, Colorado, native, walked away with the best NCO crown and a new level of self-awareness as a leader.

"Competing in Best Warrior has a way of letting you know where you stand," Beuse said. "I have a better understanding of what my deficiencies are and that makes me a better sergeant."

He admitted the tempo of the competition's events caught him off-guard at times, which he quickly realized was all part of a bigger plan.

"That 12-mile ruck transitioning into a stress-fire event really tested me physically," Beuse said, his face contorting somewhere between a grimace and a smile. "I was pushed a lot further than I expected."

For Long, a Korean linguist and Dallas area native, the tempo of the events and formidable competition turned out not to be the only obstacles standing between him and the title of INSCOM's Best Warrior.

"The heat made everything out here 10 times more difficult," he said of temperatures that easily reached the upper 90's and combined with stifling humidity at A.P. Hill. "It takes a lot out of you pretty quickly and things can get rough fast."

The affable Long seemed to enjoy the week of exertion and noted it was his battle buddies competing beside him every step of the way that helped him to push himself and truly appreciate the experience.

"Going all-out, getting miserable together," Long said with a laugh. "Every one of these guys has my respect."

INSCOM's Best Warriors were recognized with a bronze trophy from G-3 Sgt. Maj. Roger Daigle and a round of applause from those who attended the closing ceremony inside the INSCOM headquarters building. For the winners, it felt like a bit of a mid-way point with the ARCYBER Best Warrior Competition looming and hopefully, after a win there, a trip to the overall Department of the Army (DA) Best Warrior Competition.

"It would be really something if an INSCOM NCO and Soldier could win at the DA level," Long said, smiling. "I know most guys up there wouldn't be expecting anything like that."