FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii--Six Non Commissioned Officers and five Soldiers representing the major U.S. Army, Pacific commands are gathered here on Oahu to compete for the 2010 title of NCO and Soldier of the Year.

The annual, five-day competition, hosted at Schofield Barracks, June 7-11, pushes the Soldiers and NCOs through a variety of challenges, both mental and physical, said Sgt. Maj. Alan S. Hatton, operations sergeant major, USARPAC. The goal of the competition is to find the best, most well-rounded Soldier and NCO in USARPAC.

Each participating command conducts its own version of the Warrior Challenge, and then selects representatives in both the NCO and Soldier categories. The winners then move forward to compete in USARPAC's annual challenge.

The competition consists of eight scored events to include a written examination, an appearance in front of a command sergeants major board, M4 carbine qualification, pre-combat inspections, a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, combatives and a variety of other warrior tasks. Each competitor can earn up to 500 points based on their performance in each event.
Each year USARPAC planners closely mirror the Department of the Army competition to best prepare the winners for the next level of competition.

"We try to mimic that competition as much as possible," said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Flores Cotto, USARPAC future plans NCO and planner for Warrior Challenge 2010. "We get our guidance from DA and try to find resources to do (manage the competition according to their guidelines)."
Mirroring the next level of competition makes the USARPAC competition more effective and better prepares the winners, he added.

Preparations for this competition varies from Soldier to Soldier, but for Spc. Roberto Maldonado, 94th Army Air Missile Defense Command , curiosity played a big role in his preparations.

"You can't know the material from the book and only know that. That provides a foundation and motivates me to start researching," he said.

That research resulted in a greater curiosity to find out more and learn more about the topics he was tested on.

Before I knew it, I was ready for this competition and I knew vital information I can apply here and later when I am in a leadership position, he added.

This competition reaches further than the Pacific and Flores Cotto said that the benefits to the Army are far reaching and long lasting.

"This competition sets the standard," Flores Cotto said. "These Soldiers become role models for future Soldiers and leaders. I think that if everyone attempts (to be a role model) , then it would benefit unit cohesion and Soldier standards. It would overall make a better Army.

The winners from this year's competition will be announced at the USARPAC Army Birthday Commemoration celebration at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu on June 12.