FORT BENNING, GA – The most senior enlisted Soldiers of Regional Health Command-Atlantic demonstrated exactly what it means to lead from the front, April 21-24 on Fort Benning. RHC-A Command Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Booker, along with Martin Army Community Hospital Command Sgt. Maj. Alexander Poutou, hosted the Ready A-Team as they validated the lanes for next week’s Best Leader Competition.
From April 25-28, 13 teams from across the region will compete against each other to determine who reigns supreme as RHC-A’s best medical leaders in demonstrating military bearing, communication skills, knowledge of various military subjects and the ability to perform a variety of warrior skills. But before tomorrow’s Soldiers are put to the test, today’s leaders competed in the same feats of strength, stamina and mental acuity.
“The Medical Command (MEDCOM) Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough’s philosophy is don’t ask Soldiers to do something you wouldn’t do,” explained Poutou. “So we as senior leaders we will get after it. Making sure everything is safe. If we can do it, the Soldier can do it.”
To that end, Booker led Poutou and his fellow command sergeants major through various mentally and physically challenging tasks such as combatives, water survival and dynamic stress weapons qualification.
“As the RHC-A Command Sgt. Maj., it is my responsibility to leader develop the command sergeants major below me,” said Booker. “Having the command sergeants major compete in the same events as the Soldiers will throughout the competition certifies that these command sergeants major understand the standard [as prescribed by the Army] and are able to apply the same skill sets as they require of their Soldiers.”
The Best Leader Competition promotes esprit de corps throughout the Army while recognizing Soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values and embody the warrior ethos.
“It’s good camaraderie. We can make fun of each other,” said Poutou. “A lot of us are up in age. We will laugh at each other, but at the same time we will support each other.
“I have had the pleasure of being part of the validations at Fort Hood and Hawaii. I got the scars, but I will say it has been the best events that I have attended. It’s challenging, but at the end of the day, it’s not about competition. It’s about setting troops up for success.”
Poutou admitted climbing the rope is the most difficult part of the competition for him. But anything that requires heavy lifting? He’s your man.
“Getting after what the Soldiers do … the Soldiers keep me young. They challenge me,” said Poutou. “We are home of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, home of the infantry, armor and ranger school. So a lot of the lanes we are using is what the rangers use to train … the [BLC] competitors are going to be challenged.”
Putting aside all the good-natured pre-competition competition, the main intent of validating the lanes is ensuring the safety for all.
“Validation solidifies that each event the competitors go through meets the training standard identified,” explained Booker. “Each event is fair and equal for all, and that all risk measures have been put in place.”
Next week, 13 of the Army’s best medical Soldier teams will converge on Fort Benning to compete against each other in the numerous senior enlisted leader-approved safety-tested administrative, athletic, warrior tasks and battle drills.
“Those Soldiers are the future of the Army. It’s not us anymore,” said Poutou. “What can we do to build that readiness, that competence? The concept of the competition is to select the best team that can work as a team, epitomizing the ‘This is My Squad’ [TIMS] initiative of the Army’s top enlisted Soldier, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.”
Grinston’s initiative focuses on replicating the strong, cohesive teams often found in Special Forces units. The competition winners, RHC-A’s best medical leaders, will represent the A-Team at the Army’s Medical Command Best Leader Competition taking place in June, right back here at Fort Benning. The winners of the MEDCOM competition will vie to become the Army’s Soldier or Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, in October.
“The Regional Health Command-Atlantic is the ‘Ready Now’ region,” boasted Booker. “And this 2022 Best Leader Competition will show you why we are the A-Team!”