Warriors from around the world will gather here Monday - Oct. 6 to determine who is the most technically and tactically professional Soldier and noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army, during the fifth annual Department of the Army Soldier and NCO of the Year "Best Warrior" Competition.

All of the 20 Soldiers and NCOs, who will compete for the Army titles, had to win at preliminary competitions held by their major Army commands. The competitors for the Soldier of the Year will include the ranks of private through specialist. The competitors for NCO of the Year will include the ranks of corporal through sergeant first class.

The competitors will face rigorous tests that challenge their warrior skills, qualities and abilities in every aspect. The competition begins with four days of tests at Fort Lee. The warriors will take the Army Physical Fitness Test consisting of push ups, sit ups and a two-mile run and attempt to maximize their score in each event; a written examination on general military topics and an essay; fire M-4s for record; negotiate day and night warrior urban orientation courses; and be evaluated in a number of critical warrior tasks and skills.

The contenders will also face selections boards. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston will chair both the Soldier and NCO boards, and the two boards will each be comprised of six senior command sergeants major from throughout the Army. The boards will evaluate each Warrior's appearance, military bearing and knowledge in a number of key areas.

The Army commands that will be represented in the competition are: U.S. Army Forces Command; U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army; U.S. Army Material Command; Eighth U.S. Army-Korea; U.S. Army Special Operations Command; U.S. Army Pacific Command; U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command; U.S. Army Medical Command; Military District of Washington and National Capitol Region, which includes 10 smaller commands.

The winners will be announced Oct. 9 during the sergeant major of the Army luncheon held at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C.