SEMBACH, Germany – When the dust settled and the scores were tallied, the squad from USAMEDCOM took 2nd place at the Army’s Best Squad Competition in the U.S. Army Best Squad Competition held at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Sept. 25 - Oct. 5th. The squad from USAMEDCOM was made up of Soldiers from Medical Readiness Command, Europe.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael R. Weimer presented the awards in a ceremony at the 2023 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. on Monday Oct. 9.
In addition to winning 2nd place in the overall Army-level competition, Sergeant 1st Class Kaleb Richardson from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center won the SMA Michael A. Grinston Leadership Award.
In total, more than 50 top notch Soldiers from 11 of the best squads across the U.S. Army, participated in the grueling and challenging 10-day competition.
“Our Soldiers performance during this extremely tough competition was phenomenal,” said Brig. Gen. Clinton Murray, commander of Medical Readiness Command, Europe. “They proved they have the right stuff, not only in their combat medic skills, but in their basic Soldier skills as well. These fine Soldiers are the backbone of our Army, and I am extremely proud of their accomplishments.”
The intense 10-day competition assessed each squad on their technical and tactical proficiency, as well as their ability to work as a disciplined and cohesive team. The Army revamped its former Best Warrior contest two years ago into the Best Squad Competition to encourage a greater focus on team building and unit cohesion.
“The most important factors for success in this competition were teamwork and trust,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kaleb Richardson, assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “And fortunately, these factors just come natural to us. At no place along the continuum of care for our patients is there any room for individuals. We all understand that everyone has a part to play, and we trust them to do it. That's what makes Army Medicine special, we live everyday practicing these principles, and that directly translates to our ability to perform warfighting tasks at a high level.”
The 11 squads from across the U.S. Army represented: U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army Cyber Command, U.S. Army Futures Command, U.S. Army Materiel Command and U.S. Army Military District of Washington.
The squad level competition featured several different fitness and combat related events ranging from the Army Combat Fitness Test and various weapons lanes, to a strenuous 12-mile foot march, detailed individual warrior tasks and squad battle drills all while traversing through the austere 200,000-plus acres of training area at Fort Stewart.
Although the competition lasted only 10 days, each squad underwent months, and in some cases, as much as a year of preparation to be ready for this competition. In addition to performing their daily jobs at their home duty stations, the squads completed tons of training and beat out other squads from their commands to compete in the Army level competition.
“This was not an individual Soldier competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jesus Gonzalez, senior enlisted advisor for Medical Readiness Command, Europe. “These squads were successful based on their ability to work together. For example, one Soldier might be good at battle drills, and one might be very good at land navigation, but at the end of the day, they had to work together as a squad. I am extremely proud of our Soldiers and their professionalism and performance.”
According to senior Army leaders, the best squad competition sets the example for all other squads to follow. It is not enough to excel in just one skill. Combat readiness is achieved when squads excel together in Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) - related duties and all battle drills. The Army Best Squad Competition was designed to put competitors to the test with teamwork being the only way to succeed.
“This competition was important to me because I wanted to prove myself,” said Spc. Axxel Pasos, a member of the squad from USAMEDCOM. “It feels good that our team made it this far, and we showed what MEDCOM Soldiers are capable of. We worked extremely hard to get here and it’s just something we’ve always been good at. As a result of this competition, our squad has deeper bonds and greater respect for each other.”