By Mr. Brian Hill (Leonard Wood)October 11, 2019
The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence recently conducted their Quarterly Best Warrior Board for the fourth quarter, which for the first time included junior officers. 2nd Lt. Ryan Kossover, 31st Engineer Battalion, earned the title MSCoE Junior Officer of the Quarter.
The idea to give junior officers a chance to compete for this award came out of a desire to provide more professional development opportunities for young officers stationed here.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood, said he feels there's no better way to do that than to make them study, prepare and appear in front of a board.
"With the recent assignment of platoon leaders to our initial entry training units, we wanted to find additional ways to add to the junior officer's professional development," said Breckinridge, who participated in the MSCoE junior officer board.
As a platoon leader for initial entry training units, Kossover said he feels the information he had to learn to be successful in front of the board will help him better meet the needs of the enlisted force he helps train.
"It exposes lieutenants to what their Soldiers have to go through," he said. "Participating in this board was really eye opening as to what your NCOs are supposed to know and how much information they're supposed to absorb because on the officer side, I feel like we focus on completely different things -- big picture global Army stuff. Venturing over into (the enlisted) side, it opened my eyes as to how much material there actually is to know. It's personally helped me out because now I understand what my drill sergeants have to go through and what they have to do to make their rank, but we can also speak the same language now."
Kossover is a third-generation Soldier whose father retired as a sergeant major with 30 years of active-duty service.
"That played a large influence on my decision to join," he said. "I wanted the opportunity to do things that 99 percent of people will never do and have a meaningful career that was a part of something bigger than myself. I also want to know that what I do matters."
To prepare for the boards, Kossover said he bought the same study guide his drill sergeants use and just crammed as much as he could in his limited spare time.
"I had about a month to study, but it was also about the time we picked up a brand-new class of trainees, so finding time was hard," he said. "Luckily, we had Sundays off, so every Sunday it was just me studying. My fiancé Mary helped out a lot. She's hard headed like me, so if I'm not studying she'll rip into me a bit until I actually do it."
Kossover also singled out one of his non-commissioned officers, Staff Sgt. Patrick Shepherd, as a guiding influence on his growth as a young officer.
"Drill Sergeant Shepherd made sure I was studying the right materials and pointed me in the right direction when I needed help," he said. "Ultimately, with his guidance I was able to narrow my focus a bit with the limited time I had."
Kossover said he credits a lot of his success to never doing things halfway.
"My philosophy is that you might as well give it what you've got," he added. "I didn't get nervous because I just accept the reality that I did my best, so there's no reason to stress about it."
Kossover will compete for Junior Officer of the Year in May 2020 at the MSCoE Best Warrior Competition.