FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Nov. 1, 2017) ˗ The U.S. Army Special Operations Command named its Career Counselor of the Year in a combined competition with the 1st Special Forces Command Career Counselor of the Year for fiscal year 2018.

Staff Sgt. Tamara Mohammed, 95th Civil Affairs Battalion (A), was named the USASOC Career Counselor of the Year and the 1st Special Forces Command Career Counselor of the Year, in a ceremony, Oct. 27, 2017.

Mohammed, recognized for her attention to detail and duty expertise, competed against seven of her peers representing other USASOC component service commands. Mohammed will represent USASOC at the Department of the Army level competition in February 2018.

Sgt. Maj. Carla Hubble, USASOC Command Career Counselor, who oversaw this year's competition, said, "This competition evaluates the Career Counselor as a whole and mimics what they would experience at the Department of the Army Career Counselor of the Year Competition, should they win."

Contestants were judged in three categories: the Army physical fitness test, a 50-question written exam and an appearance before a five-panel board. Individual winners were named for each category.

Mohammed took first place in the written exam and the board selection. The winner of the APFT was Staff Sgt. Robbie Patterson, 3rd Special Forces Group. Patterson was also named first runner-up for the USASOC Career Counselor of the Year.

Upon winning, Mohammed, thanked her team, her spouse and God and told how she prepared herself for the competition.

"I did a lot of studying between the regulations, rereading it, rereading the messages, quizzing myself, and going through different types of scenarios," she said.

Mohammed said winning meant a lot to her, but it wasn't only the competition that made her a winner.

"I wouldn't consider myself necessarily Career Counselor of the Year just based off of a three-event assessment. I think what I do day in and day out makes me feel deserving of this."

While the mission of a Career Counselor is all encompassing, the main focus is retention.

"A Career Counselor's main focus is always on retention," Hubble said. "Retention plays an integral part in maintaining the Army's force alignment and without it, the Army cannot meet its required end strength."

"It's (retention) extremely important to USASOC. As far as our mission entails, we have to keep people in uniform to go out and do great things," Mohammed added.

Mohammed's advice to other career counselors: "Compete, it's definitely a life changing experience. It definitely made me a better counselor. At the end of the day, winning, not winning, I'm more knowledgeable than I was three weeks ago."

Army career counselors eligible for the competition must demonstrate success in managing their retention program within Department of the Army guidelines. Career Counselors must also demonstrate outstanding personal qualities and traits to be successful NCOs and Army Career Counselors. They must also show individual innovations in counseling Soldiers, and knowledge of Army retention.

USASOC Excellence in Retention awards were also awarded during the ceremony. Receiving awards for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2017 were 1st Special Forces Command (A), U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. A fourth quarter award was presented to the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 2017 Year to Date award was presented to USASOC Headquarters and Headquarters Company and 1st Special Forces Command (A).

The retention of high-quality USASOC Soldiers is paramount as USASOC strives to maintain force strengths to support ongoing operations around the globe.