CAMP BULLIS, Texas - A procurement noncommissioned officer bested five fellow Soldiers, each representing the finest of their respective contracting support brigades, to be named the Expeditionary Contracting Command’s 2011 NCO of the Year following two and a half days of competition in San Antonio, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Shults of the 627th Contingency Contracting Team , 409th Contracting Support Brigade, Kaiserslautern, Germany, was presented with top honors during an awards ceremony here May 25.

“The most challenging part of the competition was the foot march,” Shults said. “The terrain and humidity really made it tough. Frankly, I just focused on what I was taught and to just get it done.”

The competition took place May 23-25 at Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. Soldiers tested their warrior skills at events including an Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification and advance fire, urban orienteering, and day and night land navigation.

Also tested were the fundamental combat skills, also known as warrior tasks and battle drills, in which all Soldiers must maintain proficiency to fight and win on the battlefield. According to Command Sgt Maj. John L. Murray, ECC command sergeant major, these skills make up the foundation upon which combat training is built and are the primary focus of tactical training for both officers and enlisted Soldiers.

“For the 51C NCO, there’s a lot of concentration on contracting skills, but this competition affords them an opportunity to show their Army training as well,” Murray said. “They have to perform all of the basic tasks that demonstrate not only to them and their units, but to the Army that they’re still Soldiers and warriors.”

Warrior tasks are common individual skills deemed critical to a Soldier’s basic competency and include weapons training, tactical communications, urban operations and combat lifesaving. Battle drills are group and collective skills designed to teach a unit to react and accomplish the mission in common combat situations such as an ambush or movement of wounded personnel.
The contracting Soldiers also had to meet a formal board and complete a written test and essay. The competition culminated with a six-mile foot march with the NCOs carrying a 35-pound rucksack.

This is the second year ECC has conducted the NCO of the Year competition. Last year’s competition also took place at Camp Bullis.

Shults will go on to represent ECC at the Army Materiel Command NCO of the Year competition in July. He will also represent the command at various events over the next year.