FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Fort Drum officials held an open-tryouts tournament last week to find Soldiers who could best represent the 10th Mountain Division (LI) in the All-Army Combatives Tournament next summer at Fort Hood, Texas.

"The winners here will end up going to the All-Army tournament in Texas next July," said Sgt. Justin Gauthier, an OH-58D Kiowa mechanic with 277th Aviation Support Battalion, 10th Combat Avia- tion Brigade.

The three-day event on post pitted service members against each other in weight classes from flyweight to heavyweight in a single-elimination tournament. Winners were determined by either a points rating or by forcing a "tap-out" from the opponent.

Determining which Soldiers excel at hand-to-hand combat will give Fort Drum combatives instructors an idea of which Soldiers will best compete against exceptionally competitive teams.

"We are moving in the right direction to be competitive with teams like Fort Hood, (which) has won All-Army three years in a row and now they are hosting the event," said 1st Sgt. Curtis Mosely, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

The Army uses combatives to educate Soldiers on how to protect themselves against threats without using their firearms, providing a nonlethal response to situations on the battlefield while instilling the "warrior instinct" for displaying the necessary aggression to meet the enemy unflinchingly.

"The tournaments here on Fort Drum are used to build 'esprit de corps' within the units," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Cole, instructor at Fort Drum Light Fighter School. "We have five tournaments a year that we have planned every year. The tournaments are essentially for the units to take their Soldiers and allow them to train in their warrior task and drills that we taught them through the Level 1 / Level 2 Army Combatives system.

"It allows us to see what they are made of," he added. "From there, we take the Soldiers that have the best potential and train them for the All-Army team."

Taking part in the Army's Combatives program can build pride within the unit and can help Soldiers become comfortable leading troops.

"For most Soldiers, it's a confidence booster," Cole said. "This will break that barrier of being in front of other Soldiers (and) actually fighting someone who is trying to attack them or beat them. This is an opportunity to teach them and find out what they are missing.

"This transition to us fighting the enemy, you can't just be a jiu-jitsu practitioner and beat the enemy every single time," Cole added. "You may have to do stand up. You may need to understand striking, boxing and kicking in order to be that well-rounded Soldier we want you to be."

Cole also mentioned that the school plans to hold more tournaments on Fort Drum throughout next year.

"We are going to put posters up everywhere for the next tournament," he said. "You will see them in restrooms and all over the place -- even in the food court. We are going to spread the word big time. We will disseminate to the lowest levels."