The seven Soldiers who competed in the annual U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Best Warrior Competition stand atop the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 10, 2021. The Soldiers partook in a four-day series of strenuous events to test their physical abilities and Army skills. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zach Sheely)
The seven Soldiers who competed in the annual U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Best Warrior Competition stand atop the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 10, 2021. The Soldiers partook in a four-day series of strenuous events to test their physical abilities and Army skills. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zach Sheely) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Zach Sheely) VIEW ORIGINAL

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Seven Soldiers representing U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command elements from across the globe met in Colorado Springs June 7-11, to compete in the command’s annual Best Warrior Competition.

The high elevation of the Centennial State provided the backdrop for the competition as participants partook in a four-day series of strenuous events designed to test their physical abilities and Army skills. Staff Sgt. Bradley Coss and Spc. Adam Gellert demonstrated their tenacity and expertise, winning the competition in the noncommissioned officer and Soldier category, respectively.

“This ain’t average warrior, it’s best warrior,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, USASMDC command sergeant major, during a ceremony at the command’s operational headquarters in Colorado Springs, June 11. “It was great to see a hands-on event like this after the last year we’ve endured. I told the Solders on day one, it’s like any given Sunday; it’s not over until it’s over.”

Dodson noted that the competitors displayed positive attitudes throughout, despite the grueling nature of the competition.

The events included an Army Combat Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, 12-mile ruck march, qualification on the M4 carbine and M17 pistol ranges, board interview before a panel of command sergeants major, obstacle course and patrol base operations. The Manitou Incline, a popular hiking trail that gains 2,000 feet in elevation in under a mile via 2,678 stairs, was the mystery event.

USASMC’s 1st Space Brigade and 100th Missile Defense Brigade, USASMDC elements headquartered in Colorado Springs, planned and executed the events. Participants earned points based on their performance in each event with bonus points earned for placing in the top three.

“It was rough,” said Coss, a squad leader and crew chief with Company B, 53rd Signal Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland. “It took a serious physical toll; it was just one thing after the next. However, I really enjoyed the Incline. It felt good to reach the pinnacle and look down to see what I just did.”

During the spring, USASMDC elements identified Soldiers who would best represent them at higher-level competitions. Competitions took place in their European, Pacific, Eastern, and Western regions to select Soldiers to move on to the command competition.

Gellert is a satellite controller with Company A, 53rd Signal Battalion at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Gellert is a satellite controller with Company A, 53rd Signal Battalion at Fort Detrick, Maryland. He said he was apprehensive to compete due to the high altitude of Colorado, but wanted to test himself.

“I’ve never been this far west before,” said Gellert. “I worked out a lot to prepare myself for that elevation. It took a lot of endurance training. Preparation is the key, but that would infer that the other competitors did not prepare as much as me and I know that they did. The way I prepared for each event just happened to help me in that event. As hard as it was, I was not going to quit. That was never an option.”

The other NCO competitors were Staff Sgt. Joshua Balasa, Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion, Landstuhl, Germany; Sgt. Jonathon Baker, Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii; and Sgt. Christopher Ortiz, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, Alaska. Competing in the Soldier category were Spc. Charlton Baltzegar, Company E, 53rd Signal Battalion, Fort Buckner, Okinawa, Japan, and Spc. Anthony Marlin, Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion.

Coss and Gellert will move on to represent USASMDC at the U.S. Army Forces Command Best Warrior Competition this summer.

More photos of this event are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/with/72157719403856702