At the end of a grueling five days of physical and mental challenges, a pair of Soldiers representing the Army's Criminal Investigation Command came out on top in the U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) 2019 Best Warrior Competition.

Sgt. Xiaohui Zhang earned the title of Best Warrior NCO of the Year and Pfc. Roberto Sanchez was named Best Warrior Soldier of the Year. Each was presented with trophies and an Army Commendation Medal in a ceremony hosted by ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty and senior enlisted leader Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl Lyon at Fort Belvoir, Va., July 26.

Both winners will advance to represent ARCYBER in the U.S. Army level of competition later this year.

Zhang is a wheeled vehicle mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 19th Military Police Battalion, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Sanchez is a military police investigator assigned to the 25th Military Police Detachment, 11th MP Battalion (Criminal Investigation Division) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Each earned top honors in multiple unit and command competitions to earn the right to compete at the ARCYBER event.

Win or lose, tackling the ARCYBER competition takes competency in the full range of Army warrior knowledge, skills and tasks. The competition includes an Army Physical Fitness Test and Army Combat Fitness Test; day and night land navigation; an essay and written exam; an Unmanned Aircraft System event; Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment /Assault Response and Prevention events; weapons qualifications and a stress shoot; a 12-mile road march in full combat gear; a seven-mile situational training course consisting of testing stations assessing competitors on skills such as medical knowledge, communications, ordnance and weapons; an obstacle course; and demonstrating their military knowledge and bearing before a board of six senior command sergeants major.

Zhang, who was born in Linbao, Hanan, China and now calls Lafayette, Louisiana his hometown, is a hiker and marathon runner who has a master's degree in petroleum engineering and is expecting to finish a PhD in systems engineering in December.

The sergeant said he decided to compete because "as an NCO I have to lead from the front and lead by example." Earning the ARCYBER title, he later added, makes him feel accomplished and that all his training and preparation with the help of members of his unit paid off. He said he didn't expect to win against close and tough competition.

Zhang said he essentially began preparing for this year's competition two years ago when he began getting himself ready for a 2017 contest. That gave him the foundation for competing in this year's multiple competitions, he said, but he began preparing in earnest in January.

He said after a week of relaxing following the ARCYBER event, he'll be back at it, preparing hard and focusing on "everything" for the upcoming Army competition.

"It's a comprehensive event, so if you want to win you cannot have any weakness," Zhang said.
Sanchez hails from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and is working toward his goals of earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and becoming an Army Criminal Investigation Division agent. He said he is happy and proud of the Best Warrior title because he worked "super hard" to earn it.

Sanchez also said he started getting himself ready for competition in January with the help of NCOs in his unit. And he credited Zhang, who he called his "battle buddy" during the competition, for motivating and pushing him.

Listing his hobbies as working out, hiking and swimming, he said prior to the ARCYBER competition that he was looking forward to the road march event because "you have to dig deep, have heart, and follow the Army Values to get (it) done. You have to push yourself mentally and physically."

Following the competition he said he most enjoyed the obstacle course, and found it to be the easiest event, "because I like to do that kind of stuff, because it's very challenging and you have to put yourself in every obstacle."

Hardest for him during the contest, Sanchez added, was the hot weather and rain during the week of competing, and facing the board.

That's why, he said, the board will be one of things he focuses on as he prepares for the Army competition.

"I'm going to take one week or two weeks off to rest a little bit, and then I'm going to collect more information about the next level and I'm going to start working on the board stuff -- and the physical stuff as well -- to be ready."

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