CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Charlie Company 2nd Battalion (Combined Arms), 116th Calvary Regiment (C Co. 2-116th CAB) emerges victorious in the grueling U.S. Army Central Best Squad Competition held in Camp Buehring and Camp Arifjan from May 7-11, 2023.
Fourteen U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) squads went head-to-head in the intense competition. Each squad, composed of five soldiers, faced a series of difficult warrior tasks and battle drills that evaluated their technical and tactical proficiency, testing both physical and mental abilities.
For 5-days, the squads endured a multitude of mental and physical challenges, including the six-event Army Combat Fitness Test, an obstacle course, weapon ranges, stress shoot exercises, Expert Soldier Badge tasks, day and night land navigation, squad missions, a nearly nine-mile foot march, “intangible” scenario lanes and a culminating squad board.
“This competition produces strong sergeants that make strong Soldiers and strong Soldiers make strong squads,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jacinto Garza, the Senior Enlisted Leader for ARCENT. “And strong squads are responsible for winning our nation’s wars.”
While teams got eliminated throughout the competition, only six squads remained on the fifth and final day, earning the title of the “Super Six.”
Staff Sgt. Kyle Marquez, squad leader for Squad 1 and an infantryman with 1st battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment's Crisis Response Task Force, said the squad’s pre-competition ruck marches and their dedication to maintaining physical fitness helped them compete.
In addition to the “Super Six” squads, the other teams showcased resilience and determination as they navigated the rigorous tests despite falling short of securing a place among the finalists.
Sgt. Somaney Keo, squad leader for Squad 9 and a signal support noncommissioned officer with the 90th Human Resources Company, 369th Sustainment Brigade, said the competition helped him learn more about leadership and what it takes to lead a squad.
“Being precise and calm is critical to being a squad leader,” Keo said.
The five-day competition placed the squads in realistic and challenging scenarios that required them to operate as organized teams.
The victorious Squad 3 will move on to represent ARCENT in the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Best Squad Competition in August 2023.
Staff Sgt. Joshua D. Hutchings, squad leader for the winning squad and infantryman, said, "At C Co. 2-116th CAB, we spend a lot of time training hard, and we excel because of it—this competition is an opportunity for us to show that our unit is a unit that trains hard.”
Garza expressed confidence in the squad’s abilities, recalling that the previous year’s ARCENT-winning squad secured second place at the FORSCOM competition.
“I believe this year at the FORSCOM competition, our winning ARCENT squad will take first place,” Garza said.