FORT BENNING, Ga. (Feb. 6, 2013) -- Three men earned a unique distinction last week during the 194th Armored Brigade's annual Best Warrior Competition. They are Staff Sgt. Adam Krause, Drill Sergeant of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Erik Hall, NCO of the Year, and Spc. Neil Weaver, Soldier of the Year.

It's only the second time the Armor unit has hosted its brigade competition on Fort Benning.
Staff Sgt. William Klinger, NCOIC for the competition, said he believes the unit has Soldiers who can compete at the MCoE level and win.

"We're still trying to create a name for our Soldiers," he said.

Klinger, the 2012 194th Armored Brigade Drill Sergeant of the Year, said it was difficult last year with the difference in heat and humidity, but it was worthwhile.

"It was an excellent experience and I encourage anybody to do it," he said. "It gets us back into the mindset of competing and refreshing everything we're supposed to know -- as well as studying for new things. I know at all levels, there are different events that some of the competitors have never done before. It broadens your base of knowledge to make you more well-rounded."

That's actually the goal of the competition, Klinger said, to find the most well-rounded Soldier, NCO and drill sergeant.

Like other units across the installation, the 194th Armored Brigade hosted competitions at the battalion or squadron level in recent months to determine their top Soldier in each category.

Weaver said the brigade competition was more difficult than the battalion one.

"I like the challenge," he said. "You can only push your body so far, but you can push your body a little bit farther if you're mentally prepared for it."

The combination of physical fitness with mental fortitude is what makes a "best warrior," Klinger said.

"They're usually the ones who score the highest on their PT test," he said. "They're intelligent. They're very good at teaching. They have a lot of dedication. Their morale's high. The idea of the competition is to be stressful, both mentally and physically. It's going to push them to have to overcome obstacles and maintain their level of motivation and their competency."

The four-day event, which started Jan. 28, included several tasks: a written exam, weapons qualification, a board, physical readiness training modules, combatives, day and night land navigation, an obstacle course and a 10-mile road march.

"It's definitely been an experience," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Ramos, D Troop, 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment, who vied with three others for the title of brigade Drill Sergeant of the Year. "I haven't done many competitions within my Army career. I've never done anything of this caliber. It's mentally tough and physically demanding. It's a lot of basic knowledge, but there's so much of it. I definitely felt a little intimidated, but I was up for the challenge. This is a competition I would say every drill sergeant would want to win."

Hall, a drill sergeant with H Troop, 1st Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, said they didn't know what came next in the competition until right before it happened, and when it came to studying, they had to know it all.

"We have to be prepared for anything," he said. "They test you on everything. Having to do it while exhausted physically and mentally … that right there teaches you a lot about how to get through stuff. It just helps you hone those skills. I learn more with each competition."

The winners were announced during an award ceremony Friday. Excepting Weaver, who is PCSing to Korea, the top warriors will represent their brigade at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Best Warrior Competition in April.