SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Ready, set, go! Those are the words that kicked off the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade-Theater Best Warrior Competition held on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, April 1-4.
Seven competitors accepted the challenge to give their all, conquering the four day events mental and physical challenges, leading one Soldier and one Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) to victory.
The best of the best Soldiers and NCO's throughout the Brigade test their knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, a formal board, Army physical fitness test, a written essay, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today's operating environment.
Sgt. Lucas Johnston, a human intelligence collector assigned to Alpha Company, 311th Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion, was titled the NCO of the year and Spc. Brandon Quaye-Kumah, a signals intelligence analyst assigned to Alpha Company, 715th MI Battalion was titled the Soldier of the year.
"The competition and competitors were great," said Johnston. "The events were well thought out, very well organized and tested our capabilities."
It takes courage and confidence to step out of your comfort zone to compete and that is exactly what these competitors did, regardless of their physical abilities.
Johnston, a native from Highland Indiana, acknowledged that he wasn't completely prepared for some of the task but that did not stop him from putting his best foot forward and giving it all he had to win.
"The ruck march was the most challenging for me," said Johnston. "The competition definitely pointed out what I'm personally lacking in terms of physical readiness. It also showed me my strengths and weaknesses and what I need to work on."
Quaye-Kumah competed in his Battalion's Best Warrior Competition in 2018, however, he didn't make it to compete in the Brigade Best Warrior Competition. He didn't allow that to deter him from competing and pushing himself pass his limits in this year's competition. With determination and motivation, he was able to rise above it all and earn the title as the Brigade Soldier of the Year for 2019.
"I feel good," said Quaye-Kumah. "It was a tough competition. The other competitors gave me a really good competition."
"My NCO, Staff Sergeant Packard, prepared me and motivated me through this competition," said Quaye-Kumah." "He was right there with me throughout this competition. The competition was good. I didn't know who was going to win."
Johnston and Quaye-Kumah will move on to compete in the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Best Warrior Competition in June.
"Winning is a huge honor," said Johnston. "I'm really thankful for my leadership, family and friends for preparing and supporting me leading up to and throughout the event."
When asked about what advice he would give to other Soldiers and NCOs, Johnston said "study and find out what to expect by talking to people that have already competed in your unit. Prepare yourself physically for the demand."
Although the Best Warrior Competition is an annual event, the evaluated events are designed to not only test the competitors' skills, strengths and knowledge but it also prepares them for the operating environment as it continues to evolve each year.
Readiness is the U.S. Army top priority therefore competitions like these are always a great way to challenge individuals to put their skills into action outside of their unit training.