CHIÈVRES, Belgium – What started out as a rainy cold morning at Chièvres Air Base turned into two long days for eight Soldiers competing in the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Best Warrior Competition Feb. 8 and 9.
Soldiers from across the footprint – from Chièvres Air Base and Brussels in Belgium, from the Brunssum community in the Netherlands and from Army Prepositioned Stock (APS-2) Site Dülmen in Germany – competed in several demanding physical fitness and knowledge-based assessments.
Their goal: to represent the garrison at higher level Installation Management Command – Europe Best Warrior Competition.
“These are two pretty long days,” said Sgt. Timothy Moore, military police Soldier at Chièvres Air Base. “Day one is a little more physical; day two is a little more mental. The strongest person isn’t going to win it if they don’t have the right mental agility and the smartest person isn’t going to win it if they aren’t strong enough.”
The best warrior competition takes place yearly and tests skillsets commonly found in the military.
“I think it’s important to bring them together in a fun competition to test their abilities,” said USAG Benelux Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Yurgans.
Depending on their rank, the enlisted Soldiers compete in the Soldier category or the noncommissioned officer category.
This year’s competition tested Soldiers in a wide array of skills, including in weaponry, in responding to chemical attacks, in proper uniform wear and in interview skills.
“It’s about learning, gaining knowledge and improving yourself,” said Yurgans.
In day one, Soldiers complete a land navigation to four different sites on Chièvres Air Base, testing their abilities in weaponry, chemical attacks, and medical situations.
“I like when the event requires physical fitness along with mental acuity,” said Sgt. Deven Guelde, military police Soldier at Chièvres Air Base. “For example when they said, ‘Gas, gas, gas,’ and you put your pro mask on, it takes the knowledge to know how to use that gear, but at the same time you have to be physically fit to be able to do the events with the pro mask on.”
In their third task, Soldiers practice combat triage techniques with Staff Sgt. Joshua Kielman, a combat medic specialist with the Allied Forces Northern Europe Battalion at SHAPE, Belgium.
“We aren’t looking for perfection,” said Kielman. “Everybody is going to have a different level of experience, and ultimately as long as we save that casualty’s life, I think we have won.”
The competition continued to challenge Soldiers with a stress shoot exercise and timed ruck march with an unspecified distance all while carrying close to 60 pounds of weight on their backs.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to do some battle tasking drills in the Benelux area,” said Guelde. “We don’t get a lot of chances to do Soldier things, so it was an awesome opportunity to get out there and do Soldier stuff.”
Day two started at dawn with an Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) and quickly moved into a classroom setting with an Army Service Uniform inspection, two written tests and a board.
“I’d say mental (acuity) is what I’m looking forward to in this competition,” said Sgt. Christian Reim, military police Soldier at APS-2 Dülmen. “A few of us can handle ourselves under pressure a little bit better than physically.”
Between the written tests, Soldiers received thorough evaluation one-by-one on the placement of their insignia on their Army Service Uniforms.
Day two ended with an individual board allowing Soldier’s to test their knowledge on a wide array of topics from general Army questioning and important dates in history to the singing of the U.S. national anthem.
The scoring metric for this competition is evenly weighted across all events from day one and day two, making sure it is an equal opportunity for all participants.
“I would feel honored to take any one of them to the competition,” said Yurgans. “Everybody exceeded in one area. It was a close competition, but we can only send one soldier (and) one NCO.”
The USAG Benelux best warrior Soldier for 2022 is Spc. Patrick Z. Chayeb and the best warrior NCO is Guelde. They will move on to compete against other garrisons at the IMCOM-E best warrior competition in two months.
To view all photos of the competition, visit our Flickr album.