By LaTrina Antoine Pentagram Staff WriterJuly 26, 2010
Soldiers have been competing in boards against each other to ultimately determine the best warrior in the Army. Last week, the competition was held in the National Capital Region at Fort Belvoir. Twenty-seven Soldiers from all over the world participated in the competition.
Although the event ran throughout the week, Soldiers spent three days in competition. On the first day Soldiers participated in a written test with an essay. The second day was a bit more intense as Soldiers were required to compete in three separate boards: combatives, weapons series and land navigation.
Soldiers were tested on technique, skill, zeroing the weapon, reflective fire and knowledge of basic maneuvers in all three boards on the second day. In the land navigation portions Soldiers were tested in two different scenarios - day and night.
The combatives competition used basic level one hyper extension methods. No strikes were allowed in this board.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Rice of the 209th MP company said, ''[Combatives] require technique and skill. If you use strength, you'll be done in the first 30 seconds."
Soldiers moved from the combatives board to a weapons board. Soldiers had to first complete zeroing. From there, Soldiers moved to weapons qualification and then to reflexive firing. ''[The weapons board] is more efficient for Soldiers. Safety wise, it's a good tool to prepare the Soldiers to fire live ammunition," safety officer with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Kerry Kolhof said.
Sgt. Nathan Regedanz of the 706th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Gordon, Ga., said, ''I think this is a good experience. Being an MP, I don't get to fire an M16. My weapon is an M9 beretta. Getting the experience to fire a rifle is nice."
This year the land navigation exercise was different, because Fort Belvoir could not provide the appropriate terrain for the traditional land navigation exercise. Instead, Soldiers competed in an urban land navigation board, basically a city setting.
The competition was conducted on Fort A.P. Hill in previous years. On the third day Soldiers participated in all day operations, which required them to complete warrior tasks, battle drills and anything else in their Soldier's manual for their particular skill level.
''[The competition] is nice. It's a good training event for Soldiers," Spc. Michael Kinney from United States Army Garrison in Hawaii said. Even though he had a sinus infection he still came to the competition, because it was one of those opportunities that should not be passed up.
For Pfc. Dylan J. Keyes of the 706th MI Group at Fort Gordon, Ga., the competition was a learning exercise. ''You're going to go through it, and you're going to learn something different than when you came in," he said.
Of the beginning 27, winners emerged from both noncommissioned officer and Soldier levels. National Capital Region winners include: Staff Sgt. Christopher M. McDougall from United States Army Garrison at Stuttgart, Germany, IMCOM; and Spc. Eric A. Bugarin, 595th MP Company from Army Corrections Command at Fort Lewis Wash.
Bugarin told the Pentagram, ''[Winning] means being the best at what I do. It also means that the people who train me and spend the time to train me put a lot into it. It brings honor to my company, my battalion, my brigade and all the Soldiers and NCOs I work with."
National Capital Region warriors will proceed on to represent the region in the Department of the Army competition, which will be held at Fort Lee, Va., in October.