By Ms. Brittany Nelson (IMCOM)April 27, 2018
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (April 27, 2018)- With "BOSS Strong" projecting on a screen, notebooks laying open and pens held ready for brainstorming, BOSS representatives filled a conference room as Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dennison, of Installation Management Command's G9, began to speak.
On Jan. 18 the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers steering committee gathered at IMCOM headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston to discuss the overall BOSS program, the BOSS Strong Championship and its future. The BOSS directorate representatives, BOSS program managers, and four of the five Sergeant Majors from each U.S. Installation Management Command Directorate were among attendees at the meeting.
Dennison laid out his goals for the meeting; discuss the 2017 BOSS Strong outcome, create a tentative plan for 2019 BOSS conference, produce a hard policy and pamphlet for the BOSS program and develop a hard concept for the 2018 competition.
According to Department of the Army's BOSS Representative Staff Sgt. James Turner, also present at the committee meeting, the anticipation is over and a decision has been made. The first episode of 2017 BOSS Strong competition will premiere May 4, 2018 on the Defense Television website and application as well as the Family MWR YouTube page. The eight episodes will be released one at a time on a weekly basis.
The Defense TV app is available now for iPhones, Androids and streaming services Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Chromecast free of charge, making the series easily accessible.
Ensuring everyone can witness the competition, the American Forces Network will also air the series for personnel at garrisons and deployments overseas.
The series will show Camp Humphreys, Fort Lee, Fort Meade, Fort Bliss, and USAG Italy go face-to-face at Fort Sam Houston for a shot at $25,000 toward their local BOSS program, a rotating trophy and of course, bragging rights.
The BOSS Strong Championship features a new approach to the concept of functional fitness, and teaches Soldiers life skills, promoting healthy and more involved lives, according to Turner.
"Soldiers learn levels of fitness that go beyond the normal Army physical readiness training. They will be shown fitness that can be used in real world combat situations (where) running sit-ups and pushups don't necessarily meet the standard. Soldiers were also taught to shop and cook healthy to give them other options besides the cafeteria on post," Turner said.
Although the Army already offers a few competitions, the Best Drill Sergeant Competition, the Best Warrior and the Best Ranger Competition, BOSS Strong is different, according to Dennison.
"The concept for BOSS Strong is to provide a holistic multidiscipline competition, unlike any other competition across the Army. It gets after the triad of physiological, eating habits and healthy life styles of Soldiers and the comprehensive Soldier fitness aspects," Dennison said
Soldiers participated in numerous Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, earning points based on the team's performance.
"Soldiers gain an understanding of what the Army expects out of them, a well-rounded knowledge of MWR programs and walk away more educated, healthier and truly become a voice for the BOSS program to their senior leaders and other Soldiers at their installations," Dennison said.
As for the future, the challenge will take place every other year, falling on the off-year of the Army wide BOSS conference. Since the first BOSS Strong Championship was during the 2017 conference, the next competition will be in 2018 and then the biennial schedule will start.
Planning for the 2019 conference was hashed out during the committee meeting. The training brings together BOSS leaders at the garrison and all five IMCOM directorates to discuss the program and teach skill sets for those in charge.
"Each year the training is slightly different but they all have the same goal, to give leaders the tools to teach Soldiers, life skills, how to eat healthy, train better, to move further faster and fight harder so when we hit the enemy we make sure we win in a complex environment," Dennison explained. "The goal of the conferences and BOSS Strong is to make sure our Soldiers understand this is the way ahead for the future, for today and at the end of it the real purpose is to win our nations wars."
Policy and Pamphlet
According to Dennison, because there is no hard policy or DA circulating pamphlet that describes the Army's goals for BOSS, the steering committee took on the essential task of crafting one during the meeting.
"We created a policy and handbook, of all the things BOSS should be doing at the garrison, ID and DA level. We had the directorates update, refine and identify what was missing in order to develop the material further."
Their work product will go up to the DA for approval then pushed out to the full force so everyone has a better understanding of what they are getting and receiving from the BOSS program according to Dennison.
The 2018 BOSS Strong Competition will look fairly similar to 2017. There will still be two phases, MWR activity competitions, rigorous workouts and a championship.
The first phase happens at the garrison level. Single Service Members of any branch or Military Occupational Specialty can sign up through their installation's BOSS program manager.
"They complete a passport booklet while going through different activities, such as a nutrition class, a life skill event, seeing what their outside community has to offer, and PT sessions as a team to determine which team wins their garrison spot," Dennison said.
After the eight weeks of garrison teams battling it out, the best of the best advance to the world championship at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for phase two.
Turner sees a great future for BOSS Strong despite a shaky start in 2017. "The primary difficulty we had with 2017 was enabling people to understand what the vision of the program was going to be. Once it took off people said 'wow there's a lot of good here.' We are substantially changing people's understanding of fitness, we are teaching them about all of the programs on base. Now that we have a program, the support moving forward with it is very high."
During the off years of the championship, the first being 2019, smaller level competitions will be held at the garrisons. As for the 2020 championship there could be a drastic change, according to Turner.
"One idea that was thrown in at the meeting was a potential Amazing Race concept. All the teams would fly into a location, they would meet at a military base, perform activities then continue with a cross country trek to other installations to complete other activities," Turner explained. "Nothing is locked in for 2020 but the idea is to expose people to as much as they can on different bases."
Overall, a lot was accomplished at the BOSS steering committee with the 2017 premiere set, conference plans in place, a policy on its way to the DA and BOSS Strong 2018 gearing up for new competitors