By Ms. Brittany Carlson (IMCOM)June 14, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- For the fourth year running, a U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Soldier earned the top honor for all noncommissioned officers in Installation Management Command-Europe.
Staff Sgt. Christopher McDougall, a military policeman, was named IMCOM-Europe NCO of the Year June 1, during the IMCOM-Europe Best Warrior Competition award ceremony in Heidelberg.
The ceremony followed the three-day competition, held May 2-5 in GrafenwAfAPhr, which tested NCOs on battle-readiness and leadership skills, including physical fitness, weapons qualification and warrior tasks. Other competitors included NCOs from USAG Kaiserslautern, Wiesbaden, Vicenza, Bamberg, Ansbach and Benelux.
McDougall, who works for the USAG Stuttgart Provost Marshall Office, will go on to compete for the overall IMCOM title at the Military District of Washington competition July 12-16 in Fort Belvoir, Va.
"It says a lot about the Soldier, the garrison and the community," said Command Sgt. Major Anthony Bryant, USAG Stuttgart command sergeant major. "It says a lot in reference to the system Stuttgart has in place - it's mentoring, teaching, coaching and preparing young Soldiers to win.
"We may not be deploying, but we're still training Soldiers to be able to do their wartime mission," he added.
McDougall came into the competition with fresh knowledge of warrior tasks and skills needed on the battlefield: he returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq in March 2009. His experience makes him a tough competitor, Bryant added.
"He's a very confident leader," Bryant said. "He had set his goals, and he knows the barriers he has to cross to get there."
One barrier that McDougall has already crossed was taking the oral board examination at the IMCOM-Europe competition.
"I'm not a speaker - nerves kill me," said McDougall, who hails from Indianapolis, Ind.
However, he practiced for months with the 2009 IMCOM NCO of the Year, co-worker Staff Sgt. Ronald White, and Master Sgt. Gary Cryder, provost sergeant.
"I personally believe it's important for us to represent our community [and] keep passing on the knowledge that previous NCOs gave us," said White, who was trained by the 2008 IMCOM-Europe winner, Staff Sgt. Edmund Whipple.
McDougalls' extra work paid off: in addition to bragging rights, McDougall received $1,600 in gift certificates and savings bonds, an Army Commendation Medal, a round-trip ticket to the U.S. and other prizes for taking the IMCOM-E title.
But there's no time for McDougall to rest on his laurels.
He's already training for the National Capital competition, with the help of Cryder and White.
Each day, McDougall's co-workers pepper him with questions that he might be asked by the IMCOM board.
"If he doesn't get them, he does push-ups," Cryder said.
Cryder also whisks McDougall outside for training, without warning.
"I'll say, 'Grab your battle-rattle gear, let's go,'" Cryder said. "It's the ability to switch [tasks] like that."
White tells McDougall what to expect and ensures that he trains in all of the categories, including combative training, which is an additional part of the IMCOM-level competition.
McDougall doesn't get tired of it all, however. Instead, he welcomes the chance to hone his skills.
"In a garrison unit, you don't regularly get to do practical Soldier-type tasks," McDougall said. "Doing a competition like this gives you a chance to fill in some of those gaps. It keeps you sharp on those things you need to be successful."
McDougall's desire to stay at the top of his game is one reason why Cryder first suggested that he compete for the NCO of the Year title.
"He has a certain quality to him," Cryder said of McDougall. "He's confident, but not in the way that you see so much on the exterior. He's intelligent. He showed aptitude ... both mentally and physically."
Cryder believes that these qualities will put yet another USAG Stuttgart NCO at the top of the IMCOM level competition, and even in the Army.
"McDougall has all the potential in the world," he said.