By Sgt 1st Class Ben K. NavratilApril 25, 2018
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Seven Soldiers attached to the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade competed for the title of "Best Warrior" in a competition on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Apr. 16-18.
The winners, one Soldier and one NCO, of the contest will go on to represent the RSSB at the next level of competition, which will be hosted by the 1st Theater Sustainment Command in Kuwait.
"I've done a Best Warrior Competition before with the National Guard," said Sgt. Parris Andrews, a Religious Affairs NCO with 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard, which is attached to the 3rd Inf. Div. RSSB, "and this was completely different. The physical wear it had on the body, it was rough!"
After the APFT, they went into a map reading refresher course, which was followed by a challenging circuit of exercises based on the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test, and finally a situational training exercise (STX) in which the Soldiers had to treat and recover a casualty during a simulated chemical attack.
Andrews said the circuit training was one of the toughest parts of the three-day competition, and at least one of his competitors agreed.
"The circuits were all so close together we didn't have time to recover between events," said Spc. Eyan-Michael Wanyama, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, whose unit is attached to the RSSB during this deployment.
Early the following morning the contest continued, this time with a 12-mile ruck march carrying 60 pound rucks.
"It's been a while since I did a 12-mile ruck," said Wanyama. "Everyone told me I made good time, but I was really hurting at the end."
Shortly after the ruck march was complete, the exhausted Soldiers had to face a board of sergeants major grilling them on Army knowledge ranging from US and Afghan history to Army regulations, programs and policies. To add more stress, they had to answer some of these questions while plotting points on a map or caring for a simulated casualty.
"You're trying to do casualty care under fire while they're asking you, 'What's the regulation for X-Y-Z,'" said Andrews, who said he thought the board was the most mentally challenging portion of the contest. "I was trying to concentrate on the task at hand and at the same time multi-task and listen for the questions."
"I'm not really set up for multi-tasking," said Wanyama, "but I pulled through."
On the final day of the competition the Soldiers all zeroed and qualified on their M4 rifles, and raced to assemble and disassemble several weapons systems.
The three days left the Soldiers exhausted and beaten up. Several were still limping on raw feet from the ruck march when they received their awards for finishing.
Andrews and Wanyama will go on to compete again with other entrants from the 1st TSC in Kuwait.
Despite competing with each other, both Andrews and Wanyama felt like all the participants were a team working together to get through the event.
"A positive mindset helped me get through," said Wanyama. "I'm doing it with my battle buddies. They're all struggling, but they're all doing it, so why not me?"
Andrews felt the same way.
"I was able to see other competitors struggle like I was," said Andrews. "It made it easier, because when you're struggling with somebody, it's a little better than when you're struggling by yourself."