FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- First Army noncommissioned officers served as role-players during the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition here Sept. 30 to Oct. 5. In the scenario, competitors interacted with members of the mythical Cortinian Army, which were played by 15 First Army Soldiers.

Those Soldiers also wrote the scenario, much as they would devise a script for a unit going through a training exercise. Only instead of helping a unit prep for deployment, the script challenged Best Warrior competitors, who performed graded tasks in simulated combat.

Sgt. 1st Class Rodrigo Davis, a First Army G3 operations NCO, served as one of the role-players. Their engagement with the competitors deviated from the usual First Army role of observing, coaching, and training. "When they got done, we didn't tell them what they did right or wrong," Davis said. "They strictly came up, went to the task, did the task, and they were done."

"It was way different from what we do at First Army as OC/Ts, to go out as role-players and giving them minimal guidance," said Sgt. 1st Class Demond Gardner, G3 senior training exercise NCO. "We were told to come up with a scenario, stick to character, and give everybody the same script.

During the competition, 22 Soldiers representing 11 commands performed tasks such as nine-line medical evacuation, first aid, nuclear biological and chemical, marksmanship, and obstacle courses. The six-day event tested competitors' abilities during urban warfare simulations and also featured board interviews, warrior tasks, and battle drills.

The 15-hour days left the Soldiers exhausted but appreciative. "I don't get out a lot in First Army. I liked meeting my other battle buddies within First Army divisions," Davis said. "I would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to do it."

Sgt. 1st Class Lewis Darden, a chemical control specialist with the 188th Infantry Brigade, put his knowledge to use at the chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear station.

"We would put them through the scenario and had to stay in role," Darden said. "In the CBRN scenario, they had to find out if there were any hazardous chemicals in a bunker."

While he had to stay a detached observer and role-player, Darden said it was compelling to watch some of the Army's best Soldiers going against each other. "It was a great experience seeing the Soldiers compete," he said.

That admiration was returned. "The cadre were amazing," said Sgt. 1st Class Deon Myers, a Best Warrior competitor from the 302nd Signal Battalion. "They remained in character and knew exactly what they were doing, where they could help out and where they couldn't. They were absolutely amazing. The professionalism was 100 percent, top notch. They knew what they were out here for and they accomplished it with high standards."

Staff Sgt. Cesar Gonzalez, representing United States Army Europe, added, "The cadre were probably the most professional I've seen. The competition was very well set up and organized."

Meanwhile, Sgt. Jody Brewer of the Kentucky Army National Guard, said, "They were very professional. They had roles to play and they did them well. I didn't see any favoritism."

"They were very knowledgeable, they know their parts very well," added Spc. John Mundey of the 299th Engineer Company. Echoing those sentiments was Spc. Bailey Ruff of the South Dakota Army National Guard's 842nd Engineer Company, who said, "They are super professional, really knowledgeable, and really good with keeping us engaged."