RHINE ORDNANCE BARRACKS, Germany – Nine soldiers from across the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s formation competed in the grueling European Best Defender Competition (EBDC) testing their professionalism, tactical proficiency, mental and physical toughness at Rhine Ordnance Barracks June 1-5.
Staff Sgt. Ian Ledesma, a patriot section chief assigned to Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment won the noncommissioned officer category of the European Best Defender and said that he entered the competition because he likes to compete, pushing himself physically and mentally.
“I wanted to bring back that motivation and drive back to my unit to inspire soldiers and other NCOs to go ahead and put themselves out there to compete in competitions like this,” Ledesma said. “I came here with the mindset to win and I did that. I wanted to represent my battalion and battery and with the support I’ve been given, I didn’t want to fail anybody and now I’m just ready for USAREUR.”
The EBDC consisted of events spread out over five days to include a physical fitness challenge, a written exam, an essay, hands-on warrior tasks and battle drills, a scenario-based marksmanship event, stress shoot, call for fire, land navigation (night/day), a foot march, call for fire mission, reacting to a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) attack, evacuating a casualty in CBRN environment, conducting de-masking procedures and performing tactical combat casualty care and concluding with a board panel.
Spc. Justin Rivard, a team chief assigned to Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Ansbach, Germany won the soldier category and said this was a great way to distinguish yourself not only as a soldier, but as a person.
“There’s a lot of times when I was competing in this where I asked myself do I actually have what it takes to do this?” said Rivard. “I have to. I have to have this mentality because if I don’t it’s over. It’s already over if I quit on one single thing.”
Although Rivard won in his category, he still has his eye on the bigger prize. The U.S. Army Europe’s Best Warrior Competition where he will compete among the best of the best stationed in Europe.
“I wouldn’t say I’m ready right now; this was a good test of my abilities as an individual and I think with my time frame, I believe I will become better and do whatever I can to be fit for that competition,” he said. “Obviously at that point, that’s a whole different animal and I know if I want to do good at that, I’m going to have to be the best at what I do.”
The winner of the officer category, 2nd Lt. Garrett Julian, support platoon leader assigned to Charlie Battery, 5-7 ADAR, said he would recommend this challenge to others seeking self-improvement and for refining tasks not implemented into everyday training.
“Coming out of the competition made me a better soldier and leader going through those tough challenges and coming through with a little more resiliency and getting more training,” Julian said.
As for the upcoming USAREUR’s Best Warrior Competition, Julian said it felt good to win the Defender, but said he has more preparation to do.
“I’m excited to go and win that one too,” he said.
The winners were presented with an Army Commendation Medal and coin from 10th AAMDC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Gregory Brady and the 10th AAMDC Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Plotnick at a ceremony at Rheine Ordnance Barracks, June 5 while implementing health prevention measures such as wearing masks and keeping proper distancing.
The 10th AAMDC conducts the European Best Defender Competition annually to identify and recognize soldiers that possess exemplary qualities, warrior ethos and tactical proficiency throughout the command. The events are designed to challenge and reward competition all participants.