SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — The mechanical clicks of an M249 machine gun being assembled and a Soldier shouting questions during a mock evaluation of a combat casualty while under simulated fire provides Sgt. Casey Naumann with a preview of what is to come as he takes cover in the shade waiting to be evaluated.
“The Best Warrior Competition has been really rewarding but at the same time really challenging,” said Naumann, a military police assigned to 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, and a Pueblo, Colorado, native.
Naumann was one of 17 competitors from around the Indo-Pacific region who traveled to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, June 5-9 to compete in the 2022 U.S. Army Pacific Best Warrior Competition.
Staff Sgt. Calvin Miller, a combat engineer assigned to Eighth Army, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, and a Minot, North Dakota, native and Spc. Blaine Lawler, an infantryman assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and a Springlake, North Carolina, native were selected as the 2022 USARPAC BWC Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, respectively.
“The experience was stressful and intense but also incredibly meaningful,” said Miller. “To win just meant the world to me.”
Lawler agreed that the competition was both challenging and humbling yet impactful.
“Everything I’ve learned throughout the competition, I just can’t wait to bring to my Indo-Pacific partners and allies through our training experiences,” said Lawler.
USARPAC Command Sgt. Maj. Scott A. Brzak, USARPAC’s senior enlisted advisor, congratulated participants and applauded them for setting themselves apart from their peers through hard work and dedication.
“You are not here by accident, you all have put in a lot of effort at various levels to make it here,” said Brzak. “As I said earlier, win or lose, you are all winners in my eyes for volunteering to come do this and putting in this extra effort.”
The competitors, who previously won company, battalion, brigade, and post competitions to earn their place in the regional contest, were put through a rigorous training week including a 12-mile foot march, the Army Combat Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, written knowledge tests, a jungle 5k run, scenario-based marksmanship events, an obstacle course, NCO and Soldier knowledge boards, and a series of warrior tasks and battle drills.
In addition to the above events, the Soldiers also got the chance to view the island of Oahu from 200 feet in the air while they participated in a Special Patrol Insertion and Extraction System training session.
The event, which is not a testing requirement for USARPAC’s BWC, is part of Schofield Barracks’ Lightning Academy, which aims to develop agile and adaptive Army leaders through demanding training courses including Air Assault, Jungle Operations Training Course, Rappel Master, Small Unit Ranger Tactics, and the Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System and Special Patrol Insertion and Extraction System Master course. The courses are also available for international partners and allies to attend.
Although it is an individual-based competition, Staff Sgt. Joshua Mubarak, a fire support specialist assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and a Houston, Texas, native, plans to bring his skills and experience from the BWC back to his unit for betterment of the U.S. Army.
“We’re going on Operation Pathways via Exercise Garuda Shield so I’ll be able to take this back to the unit and prep my guys before we head out,” said Mubarak.
Participants are not limited in participation by their military occupational specialty and this year’s event included a combat engineer, infantrymen, musicians, signal support system specialists, and military police among others.
“Being a part of the Best Warrior Competition has been a great experience,” said Sgt. Josue Guerra, a multichannel transmission system operator/maintainer assigned to 311th Sustainment Command (Theater), Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, and a Davenport, Florida, native. “I was able to do a lot of great training out here.”
“A lot of the things I learned from different MOS skill sets and from my fellow competitors has really given me a broader perspective on what the Army does as a whole and it’s going to impart me with a lot of knowledge that is going to help me when I get back to Korea when I’m not only working with my team members but also with the Republic of Korea’s Army,” said Guerra.
“Any Soldier can come through BWC and do Army training,” said Staff Sgt. Marcom Gomes, a military police assigned to the 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, who worked in operations and organizing the annual event.
“When they come out here and compete in these events, they are preparing themselves for real world situations,” said Gomes. “Having gone through this competition, these Soldiers are setting themselves up for the future.”
Sgt. Maj. James Cook, the 2022 USARPAC Best Warrior Competition NCOIC, said that he has been impressed with the competitors and that it is evident that their proficiency and professionalism stemmed from the individual units that trained them.
“By bringing them here and displaying it for everybody to see, we are displaying the lethality and the capability of our troops that are in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Cook.