FORT KNOX, Ky. — Specialist Tony Ladebu poked out from behind a wooden wall to engage two targets when his weapon jammed.A double-feed followed by a wedged round halted his progress as he struggled to dislodge the bullets.Within seconds, the noncommissioned officer following behind him grabbed the weapon and cleared it, making it possible for Ladebu to continue down the stress shoot lane at a Fort Knox Best Warrior preparation event July 28.“If this happens at the [U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command] Best Warrior competition, you’ll have to do this yourself,” the NCO told Ladebu afterwards.Ladebu, a paralegal at U.S. Army Cadet Command, had competed in and won last year’s Best Warrior at Fort Knox but did not place at the TRADOC-level event. He acknowledged the 2020 local competition looked and felt very different.“Getting to participate in Best Warrior has definitely been interesting this year,” said Ladebu. “Of course, they want to do what they did last year and amplify that even more, but with COVID-19, it was a burden to try and get through. I’m just really happy that Cadet Command and everyone else here pulled through and managed to make this happen despite the global pandemic.”The operations senior enlisted advisor for Cadet Command, Sgt. Maj. Robert Whitely, set up the lanes and plans for this year’s event. He said the challenges in getting Best Warrior off the ground have been numerous, starting with the timeframe. It was originally slated to happen the first week of April.“Best Warrior has been impacted pretty significantly by COVID,” said Whitely. “Originally, the Best Warrior construct was going to be pretty large. We were looking at about 120 reservists and 20 or so Cadet Command personnel.“About mid-March, we made the decision to cancel all training; that was what we had been operating on until about mid-June.”Whitely explained the Reserves wanted to conduct a micro-version of Best Warrior at that time, which would involve 15-20 reservists coming from all around the United States.“This was the target week,” said Whitely. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing the spike in COVID once again, so the 84th Training Command sergeant major and I made the decision to turn off anyone coming from outside of the area. That’s essentially what we have right now.”Whitely said what they ended up doing in place of the competition was hosting more of a Best Warrior familiarization for the selected winners as well as a training opportunity for any Soldiers interested in competing in future competitions.“There’s no [local] competition [this year]. Our winners have already been selected,” said Whitely. “This is just training, and getting after the prerequisites they’ll have for the TRADOC competition.”The July 28 training included non-tactical target practice with the M17 pistol and M4 carbine rifle before incorporating both at the tactical stress shoot. The winners conducted a 12-mile ruck march the next day.The Cadet Command and 84th Training Command Best Warriors had been selected based on application packets and written essays, said Whitely. Ladebu and fellow paralegal Best NCO Sgt. Micah Chumley will represent Cadet Command.All the higher headquarters competitions will be virtual, with winners at that level expected to arrive back at Fort Knox in October for the big Department of Army-level competition. Fort Knox was selected as the new top-level Best Warrior location after Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia closed its gates.For Sgt. 1st Class Brad Morgan, an Observer Controller Trainer Academy instructor at 84th Training Command and the 84th NCO winner, this year’s competition provides another opportunity to compete. This will be his fourth attempt to earn the prestigious title.“I’m ready for this all the time,” said Morgan. “There might be somebody out there that’s better than me when the time comes, but there probably isn’t anybody that’s more willing to get in the mix.“I love this competition and will do it as many times as they give me the opportunity.”