By Capt. Eli Swaim, 2nd Battalion, 354 Regiment
Fort Sill, OK – From across the 95th Victory Division, Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, drill sergeants, and officers gathered to compete in the annual Best Warrior Competition. Across six days, the competitors were put to the test. The competition evaluated Soldiers on their individual task proficiency, small unit tactics, physical fitness, and warrior tasks. Competitors were graded on the Army Combat Fitness Test, drill & ceremonies, ranges (M4 and M17), physical readiness training, patrol situational training exercise lanes, casualty evaluation, various tactical situations, obstacle courses, and land navigation.
“We got started right away. As soon as we were checked into the barracks, they were evaluating our packing list. Full layout. It started as unexpected and kept right on from there,” said Staff Sgt. Lopez, 2nd Battalion, 354 Regiment operations NCO.
The six-day event consisted of the Best Warrior, Drill Sergeant of the Year, and Andrew Miller competitions. Our Commissioned Officer of the Year and our next year’s McArthur Award nominee is 1st Lt. Jessica Romero. Our Drill Sergeant of the Year is DS Jorge Juarez, and he will compete for the Reserve Component Drill Sergeant of the Year at TRADOC in late summer. Our Noncommissioned Officer of the Year is Sgt. 1st Class Delbert Rossiter, who was the 108th Training Command NCO of the Year runner-up. And lastly, our Soldier of the Year is Spc. Brady Benedict, who also became the 108th Training Command’s winner and will go on to compete at the U.S. Army Reserve Command level.
The BWC is not entirely about winning or losing, but rather it provides top performers with the recognition they deserve. A select few are inducted into the coveted Andrew Miller Club, a fraternity of those who live up to the legacy of the division’s only Medal of Honor recipient. During the competition’s history, many Soldiers have gone on to attend the military’s top schools.
Through repeated evaluation, Soldiers can be assured that they can meet the standards required to accomplish their mission. The physical performance test represents a Soldier’s ability to perform basic functions associated with combat tasks, such as carrying equipment and weapons over varied terrain and comparing abilities side-by-side against other Soldiers in their immediate unit or squad. The BWC experience provides validation for those who carry themselves as the best of the best.
Fellowship is no longer considered just a quality of Army life, it is an essential ingredient to its effectiveness. The fun didn’t stop at the individual level. Competitors were also evaluated on their ability to function as a team. With squad situational training exercise lanes, they had to come together to accomplish the mission. Teamwork and trust are not only hallmarks of good Soldiers, but also requirements for survival on the battlefields of today and tomorrow. The Best Warrior Challenge requires each team to enter into a competitive environment that must be audible, visible, and attainable.
“It was what the Best Warrior is supposed to be, who goes from rucking 12 miles with 35lbs and right into a board evaluation. It was what the best can do. It pushed us,” said Lopez.