It was February 2022 when Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston announced that in conjunction with the annual U.S. Army Best Warrior competition the Army would also conduct the inaugural U.S. Army Best Squad Competition.
Throughout the Army, squads immediately began training hoping to be selected to represent their division in September with the goal of being recognized as the best squad in the Army.
For Staff Sgt. Reycel Dasher, an infantryman serving as one of the many noncommissioned officers on the U.S. Army South staff, this opportunity presented an additional challenge in order to compete, he didn’t have a squad to lead.
“I had very little time to prepare once I had identified my squad but the second I identified them we started training on EIB and ESB tasks,” he said as he explained that U.S. Army South doesn’t work in traditional infantry squads. “I immediately started doing PT with them and asking them general knowledge and it was different because they came from different backgrounds as far as how long they have been in the Army.”
Leading a squad is something Dasher has done in the past, so his experience helped gear his training and boost his confidence even though the squad was assembled from different sections of U.S. Army South.
“It was difficult because it was short notice,” explained Dasher. “I’m also the only infantryman in our squad and the rest of them are geospatial engineers that I don’t really work with.”
He further explained that working with new Soldiers happens regularly in a traditional infantry squad as Soldiers are promoted or are moved for various reasons. While working with newly assigned Soldiers wasn’t new to Dasher, this type of competition was new.
Not knowing what to expect in a squad-oriented competition made the first day a bit of a shock when the teams arrived and immediately took a written exam as individuals.
“Next time I will put a little more focus on practicing board questions since that is how this competition started out with a written test,” he said. “It had a lot of general knowledge but things you may not have thought about in a long time.”
Once his team got in the swing of competing, he felt better about the chances his squad had of not only competing well but potentially winning.
“So far, I think our squad is doing really good. It looks like we are killing it out there and at least with the ACFT I know we had a good squad average,” Dasher explained at the end of the first full day of competition.
With the rest of the competition remaining unknown he had one final thing to say when asked about how he was feeling.
“I’m just taking it as it comes and not trying to fatigue my body too much and I’m definitely having fun and I will definitely try to do this again in the future as a squad leader.”