By Pfc. David E. Alvarado, 8th U.S. ArmyOctober 4, 2007
Despite the chaotic scene of detonations caused by grenade blasts, enemy gunfire and improvised devices hidden inside road-side vehicles, Sgt. Nicholas Johnson showed no hesitation as he scooped a wounded Soldier out of a vehicle and ran her to cover for medical assistance.
This was just one of five stations and several warrior tasks and drills for the 26 Soldiers put to the test during the 6th Annual Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va.
Soldiers had to compete in teams of five for each of the scenario-based tasks in the event. The scenarios included performing a nine-line medical evacuation and signaling a helicopter with hand and arm signals, providing security for a convoy and delivering first aid after an IED blast, weapons maintenance, IED recognition and detection, and detaining enemy prisoners of war.
"You don't have time to think out there," said Staff Sgt. Victor Trinidad, 8th U.S. Army NCO of they year, after providing first aid to a casualty who was wounded in an IED blast. "You have to execute fast in order to save the lives of those who are injured. All the training I did up to now just kicked in once the scenario started. I went out there, executed and saved a life."
Because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are set in mostly urban environments, being trained in IED detection is just as important as delivering first aid.
"IED detection is important because they are a major threat and take many lives," said Johnson, 8th U.S. Army Soldier of the Year. "You don't want to put your Soldiers in danger--recognize the risks so you can save lives."
The event gave all 26 Soldiers an opportunity to get hands-on experience with scenarios common on the battlefield.
"Having the individual training is great, but the reality is that most of these tasks and drills are performed with a team," said Trinidad. "And what's important is that that training will determine how a Soldier will perform on a team."
After the event, the Soldier's marksmanship will be put to the test as they lock and load and head to the live-fire range.