FORT LEE, Va., Oct. 5, 2011 -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh came to Fort Lee Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the 2011 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition. The visit was a first for the BWC and Fort Lee, which has hosted the competition for nine consecutive years.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III accompanied McHugh as he toured training sessions in the Post Field House. Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, and CASCOM Command Sgt. Maj. C.C. Jenkins were also on hand for the visit.

McHugh said the Best Warrior Competition, or BWC, is an important event that brings to light the talented individuals who make up the institution of the U.S. Army.

"It really is an amazing competition, and it helps us identify some incredible Soldiers (both NCOs and junior enlisted) who were selected by their units and commands to come here and compete against each other," he said during a press conference. "And (they're) not just competing in combatives and marksmanship and all those basic skills that are so critical to today's modern warrior. Equally important, they're being challenged intellectually."

During the first few minutes of his visit, McHugh gave the Soldiers a short brief about the Army's current state of affairs and challenged them to provide input as he goes about the business of shaping the service's near future. A number of Soldiers answered that call with immediate questions and feedback.

After that, McHugh viewed the training for upcoming BWC field events and engaged Soldiers in a bit of lighthearted conversation. He said meeting and talking with troops is an "exercise in inspiration."

"This is what it's all about," he said. "I think it is absolutely essential that all the leadership, those in uniform as well as civilians, have a chance to get out here and see the Soldiers in action. It helps me personally to be more motivated and to always remember why we're in this and who we're really intending to serve."

McHugh talked extensively about Soldiers but also seized the opportunity to mention the Base Realignment and Closure achievements that transformed Fort Lee into the Sustainment Center of Excellence, as well as the support the installation received to accomplish the missions related to BRAC.

"It was a great challenge -- 56 (new) buildings, a huge influx of new Soldiers and a complete reconfiguration of the mission here," he said. "Without community support it could not have gone so successfully. I think it is important that the Army has such great neighbors, and where and when we do, and we sure have it here, to gratefully acknowledge that. So my hat's off to all the folks and the civilian leadership who has worked in partnership with the military here to make one of the finest facilities that we have anywhere."

McHugh ended his visit by having lunch with BWC contestants and Fort Lee Soldiers.

Best Warrior concludes Friday after a weeklong schedule of physical challenges, written exams and field tasks and battle drills. The winners will be announced Monday at an awards luncheon on the first day of the Association of the U.S. Army National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Additional coverage of Best Warrior can be found at