FORT LEE, Va. – Soldiers from all corners of the Combined Arms Support Command will converge here Sunday to take part in a first-time Best Squad and long-running Drill Sergeant of the Year competition – both of which will test their military knowledge, discipline and determination to win.
The competition is a skills and abilities showcase in which enlisted Soldiers endeavor to outscore their peers during multiple training events designed to test technical and tactical proficiencies. Those competing already are considered “the best of the best,” having won lower-level unit, battalion and brigade-level competitions to qualify for the command-level meet.
“I am proud of the warriors who have earned the right to compete at this level,” acknowledged Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Escobedo, CASCOM’s top enlisted leader. “The next few days will be a critical test of determination, wills and skills. We anticipate a great event and look forward to sending our best squad and drill sergeant to higher headquarter competitions.”
Best Squad/DSOY’s competitive events will begin early Monday morning with the Army Combat Fitness Test. Later that day thru Tuesday, the competitors will move to a field environment to complete several Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills including reacting to a small arms attack, setting up a hasty fighting position, land navigation, weapons range qualification and more.
The drill and ceremonies event and board appearances are set for Wednesday. The competition concludes Thursday with an early morning 12-mile ruck-march and the awards ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Seay Field, adjacent to the CASCOM headquarters.
Sgt. Maj. Kerrick Loyd, CASCOM G3/5/7 SGM and the event’s chief organizer, said Best Squad/DSOY aims to determine who can best represent the command in the execution of skills deemed critical to overall Soldier readiness.
“It’s designed to provide our best skilled Soldiers the opportunity to showcase their competencies through the successful negotiation of obstacles as well as their performance in events testing their knowledge, critical thinking ability and resiliency over a sustained period,” he said.
Twenty-one Soldiers representing the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools as well as the Army Logistics University and Soldier Support Institute will be vying for titles.
As denoted by its title, Best Squad/DSOY are two separate competitions conducted in unison due to similar testing requirements. Best Squad determines what five Soldiers will represent CASCOM at the subsequent Army Training and Doctrine Command-level of the competition, taking place in September at Fort Bragg, N.C., this year. Winners at that level will compete at the Army level in the fall. The DSOY winner here goes on to compete in the All-Army showdown hosted by the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training in August.
The inaugural year of the Best Squad competition is an outgrowth of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston’s “This is My Squad” campaign. It emphasizes the importance of team unity across the Army and caring leaders who look out for those in their charge, which builds trust and cohesiveness.
“For over two years, I’ve talked about the importance of building a cohesive team that is highly trained, disciplined and fit,” Grinston emphasized in a recent Army Times article. “Now, it’s time to measure ourselves against that standard.”
In 2021 – the last year Soldiers competed in the old Best Warrior format here – Staff Sgt. Ryan Columbare, Spc. Jaleel Hunn and Staff Sgt. Cabot Cobb earned titles as noncommissioned officer, Soldier and drill sergeant of the year, respectively.