WASHINGTON -- Surrounded by a small group of Soldiers all dressed in physical training gear, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey kicked off the 2018 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition with a Battle Challenge event.

"Our Soldiers need to be ready," Dailey said. "Ready to do the basic skills necessary to fight and win on the battlefield. Soldiers need to have the physical … and technical skills to do their job, fight and win."

Soldiers who participated in this year's Best Warrior competition were among the first to run the Battle Challenge at AUSA. The winners of the Best Warrior competition will be announced at the Sergeant Major of the Army's awards luncheon, later today.

"PT is the most important thing you do every day. PT is a primary and fundamental thing Soldiers do to fight. That is our job -- fight and win our nation's wars," Dailey said. "AUSA put this together for us, and we couldn't be happier."

During the Battle Challenge, Soldiers raced against the clock to be the fastest to complete a series of nine different Soldier tasks. There is no prize for the winner -- just bragging rights knowing that they bested some of the Army's fiercest competitors.

"The Battle Challenge was fun," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Machado, a platoon sergeant with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and one of the Best Warrior competitors.

"During Best Warrior, we were working with some amazing competitors and the battle challenge capped off the event," he added. "(AUSA) is a lot of fun and great opportunity to see all the things going on (in the Army), and in industry."

AUSA's annual meeting is the largest land power exposition and professional development forum in North America, according to event officials. With the theme, "Ready today -- more lethal tomorrow," AUSA is driven to deliver the Army's message through informative presentations from Army senior leaders about the state of the force.

The event also hosts more than 700 exhibitors, giving the estimated 300,000-plus attendees a hands-on opportunity to interact with some of the latest technologies from the Army and industry partners. Further, AUSA provides attendees with a variety of networking opportunities and panel discussions that define the Army's role in supporting military and national security initiatives.