Sixteen Soldiers from units across the U.S. Army Forces Command competed for the coveted title of FORSCOM Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during the 2019 Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Stewart, Ga., Aug. 16 through 21.
The Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers and NCOs who demonstrate commitment to the Army Values, embody the Warrior Ethos, as well as represent the Force of the Future.
Command Sgt. Maj. J. Curt Cornelison, the FORSCOM command sergeant major, observed competitors and provided them with support and motivation. He said that a good, tough competition like this not only promotes and recognizes excellence, but it teaches the importance of winning in a Soldier's line of work.
"I told competitors on day one, it takes a special kind of person to compete here," said Cornelison. "It takes a person who is willing to lay it all on the line to see if they have what it takes to be called the best and realizing they may fall short. This takes courage."
Competitors had limited knowledge of what the competition would actually entail aside from basic soldiering skills. Soldiers and NCOs completed the Army's new physical fitness test and an obstacle course in the beginning phases of the competition. However, none of them expected the competition to take them off of Fort Bragg and to Fort Stewart.
Once in Georgia, competitors were tested on tactical maneuvering, patrolling, day and night land navigation, weapons proficiency and medical lanes. The competition grew increasingly harder with the tasks becoming more difficult and with the onset of physical fatigue. Competitors had to dig deep within to continue on.
Competitors spent two days out in the elements before returning to Fort Bragg. Then they reacted to a simulated ambush, conducted a live-fire exercise, and completed a board that tested their military knowledge, problem solving and leadership skills.
General Michael X. Garrett, FORSCOM commanding general, spoke to the competitors at the awards luncheon. He said the most important thing was to ensure that the best went forward to compete for the Department of the Army competition in October.
"What is amazing about every single one of these men is that there is nothing too spectacular about them; they look like any other soldier," said Garrett. "What separates Soldiers like this is not what you see on the outside, but what they possess on the inside."
Despite all the competitors' efforts, only one NCO and one Soldier can win the FORSCOM Best Warrior Competition and go on to compete at the next level.
The winners this year were Staff Sgt. Alexander A. Miller, a combat engineer assigned to I Corps, and Spc. David Chambers, an Infantryman assigned to III Corps.
"These competitions really hone in on the individual soldiering tasks, which are essential for a unit to be effective and work cohesively as a team," said Chambers.
"The heat of the moment is what drove me forward," said Miller. "You've got to just keep pushing."