Specialist Konner Klein, a supply specialist with Charlie Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Wackernheim, Germany, shares his thoughts on winning the 7th Mission Support Command's Best Warrior Competition in April. Klein, along with one other winner from 7th MSC, is slated to compete in the U.S. Army Reserve Command Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C. this June.
Question: How did you prepare for the 7th MSC Best Warrior Competition?
Klein: My preparation only started three days prior. I was already [temporary duty] in Kaiserslautern, so I didn't have much of my gear and had to go back to Wiesbaden and grab my gear and prepare my uniform and study as much as I could. I went over land navigation, combat lifesaving, and basic warrior tasks.
Q: Who helped you prepare?
K: Staff Sgt. William Thompson, the other competitor from the 457th, and our sponsor Staff Sgt. Lucien Kruse. We were all new to this competition so we bounced ideas off each other to help each other as best we could.
Q: What was the most challenging part of the competition?
K: Either the land navigation or the ruck march. As far as the land nav goes, we were in the middle of Kaiserslautern so the woods were very thick and it was difficult to accurately follow an azimuth so we had to count on terrain features. The ruck march was in almost full gear, with our [body armor] with plates and a 35-pound ruck. Physically, that was pretty challenging. We did 6 miles as fast as we could and it took some wear and tear on our feet. I hadn't rucked in two or three years before that march. I've done some hiking, but not with that gear or weight.
Q: Do you have any specific techniques that helped you through the ruck march?
K: It's not so much about technique, it was all about heart and how much you wanted it. I'm pretty decent as far as my cardio so that probably helped me quite a bit, but as far as actually getting through the ruck itself that's all a mental game trying to push yourself.
Q: When you found out you won, what did that mean for you personally?
K: It was almost unreal. I did a double-take when they announced my name. I try my hardest to be the best Soldier I can be, so as far as being recognized actually coming to a competition with little preparation, it was good to shine above my peers and actually get my name out there to our higher enlisted Soldiers and our leadership teams. When we go out there, we're going to do the best we can. All this training is only making us better. It's pretty nice to take some time off the normal everyday stuff and get out there and do the Soldier training we were meant to be doing, or wanted to do, when we joined the Army.
Q: How are you preparing for USARC Best Warrior Competition at Ft. Bragg?
K: Our battalion came up with a training schedule for us. We're doing a lot of physical fitness, working out twice a day and rucking twice a week. As far as other training, we're studying quite a bit and have a lot of warrior tasks we're practicing through the day including [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear], [combat lifesaver], weapons reassembly and functions checks, and combatives.
Q: If you win the USARC Best Warrior Competition, what's next for you?
K: At this point, I haven't focused on that too much. That's the 100-meter target, and I'm focused on the 50 at this point. I'm just trying to prepare as much as I can for the one coming up June.
Q: Do you have any advice for Soldiers who want to compete in a Best Warrior Competition?
K: Don't be scared. Even if it's not a winning experience for you, it's a learning experience. I've definitely learned a lot from it. Go out and do your best, and the results might play out in your favor. I definitely didn't believe I was going to win it. I went out and did the best I could, and here I am. Get out there and do it, study, and train hard.