SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — The U.S. Army Central and U.S. Army Forces Command's best squad returned to Shaw Air Force Base August 21, 2023, following their win at the FORSCOM Best Squad Competition. USARCENT Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Patrick Frank, and Command Sgt. Maj. J. Garza, ARCENT senior enlisted leader, along with members of the headquarters and a delegation of international partners, welcomed the squad back and congratulated them on their accomplishment in a small ceremony at the USARCENT headquarters.
“I am extremely proud of our squad and what they’ve accomplished in both the USARCENT and FORSCOM Best Squad Competitions, competing and winning at multiple levels,” said Garza “They are a true organic squad established at the unit level and have brought to life the Army’s This is My Squad objectives and NCO Strategy. They exemplify what it means to be a cohesive team that is highly trained, disciplined, and fit, ready to fight and win and they have done just that.”
The USARCENT Best Squad is assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 116th Calvary Regiment, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, Idaho Army National Guard. The squad trained together at home unit, honed their skills during pre-mobilization and mobilization, and served alongside one another during their deployment in both Iraq and Syria. The time spent together allowed the squad to build their cohesive team while training and growing, simultaneously motivating each other to perform at their fullest potential.
The Army NCO Strategy outlines that the most elite fighting forces in the world are built upon small units and individuals who are experts within their profession. Although the squad was disciplined and focused on building this expertise, they stated that it required substantial effort through incorporating standards-based, performance-oriented, and battle-focused training, while cultivating a “This is My Squad” culture.
“It was definitely a different experience coming from the Idaho National Guard to now representing USARCENT and FORSCOM,” said Spc. Evan Skaug, USARCENT Best Squad member and FORSCOM Soldier of the Year. “Holding the title of best squad really means a lot, we really put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, and it feels really good to have it pay off and be recognized for it.”
After the squad’s win at the USARCENT Best Squad Competition in May, they returned stateside from Kuwait to Shaw AFB in July to prepare for the next level of competition. Expert trainers at USARCENT developed a rigorous six-week training plan pairing tactically and technically proficient NCOs with the squad throughout the entire process. The training plan focused on building and furthering squad proficiency through progressive and sequential processes that incorporated training at all levels.
According to USARCENT leadership, the intent was to overtrain, allowing the squad to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible, while re-enforcing the Army’s NCO Strategy and further enhancing the squad’s discipline, fitness, and cohesion. During the training, which took place at both Shaw AFB and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the squad rehearsed and certified daily on tasks to include physical fitness, land navigation, marksmanship, weapons, medical competency and water survival skills. Overall, the Soldiers saw the training as challenging, but ultimately beneficial.
“The train up was very demanding. We put a lot of effort into each day trying to make sure we maximize every opportunity of training we had available to us,” said Spc. Christian Brown. “We made sure that we went into the FORSCOM competition with as little to no weaknesses as we could.”
With their win, the squad will now represent FORSCOM in the U.S. Army Best Squad Competition and continue to leverage their knowledge, skills, and behavior to lead. The Army Best Squad Competition is scheduled to take place September 24 to October 6, 2023 at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The Army competition will test the squad’s proficiency in their warrior tasks and battle drills and identify the most cohesive, highly trained, disciplined, and fit team that is ready to fight and win — while demonstrating commitment to the Army Values and Warrior Ethos.
The FORSCOM Best Squad consists of:
- Staff Sgt. Joshua Hutchings, squad leader
- Sgt. Douglas Kenz-Woods, FORSCOM Noncommissioned Officer of the Year runner up
- Spc. Evan Skaug, FORSCOM Soldier of the Year
- Spc. David Hann
- Spc. Anthony Hill
- Spc. Christian Brown
USARCENT is the Army service component command for United States Central Command and is responsible to the Secretary of the Army for the support and administration of more than 12,000 Soldiers, including those assigned to joint task forces and embassies, across the 21 countries in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.