WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 25, 2010) -- For the first time since its inception nine years ago, a female Soldier has claimed the title of Soldier of the Year for 2010's Best Warrior Competition.

Sgt. Sherri Gallagher of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, who represented U.S. Training and Doctrine Command at Best Warrior, beat out 11 other competitors from the Army's major commands. Gallagher, who is currently stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., is one of the top long-range rifle shooters in the country.

The title of Noncommissioned Officer of the Year went to Staff Sgt. Christopher McDougall, a military policeman now stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, representing the National Capital Region in the competition.

Best Warrior, which was held at Fort Lee, Va., Oct. 17-22, is backed by Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, and is a multi-faceted test of Soldiery. Events in this year's competition included hand-to-hand combat, urban orienteering, detainee operations, casualty evaluation, weapons familiarization and night firing.

"It's an honor," Gallagher said during an interview at the competition. "It's a lot of fun to be out here, because I don't get to do this on a daily basis. It's neat to be able to see how you compare to everyone else."

Gallagher fired her first weapon at 5 years old. She spent her childhood summers touring shooting competitions with her parents, both competitive shooters, and now participates in the World Championships every four years.

"My goal is to make the Olympic team," Gallagher said, although long-range shooting is not yet an Olympic sport.

The competition's winners were announced at the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25 by the sergeant major of the Army and Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army.

"There are company, troop, battery commanders, and first sergeants out there that would literally give up body parts for the 24 warriors that you see here -- they are really that good," Preston said before naming the winners.

Chiarelli echoed Preston's sentiments.

"This is my favorite event of the AUSA conference, and that's because it celebrates the most important part of our Army: our people," Chiarelli said. "I couldn't be more proud."