Best Warrior Competition increases individual, unit readiness for all involved

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Sgt. Marcus Jackson, Army Reserve Medical Command, makes his way to the obstacle course after completing the 10-kilometer forced march at the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4. This year’s Best Warrior Competition will determine the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier who will represent the U.S. Army Reserve in the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition later this year at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. U.S. Army photo Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/released

Fort Bragg, N.C. — It’s well-documented the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competitions (BWC) increase individual readiness for the Soldiers competing, however it also improves unit readiness for those involved with planning and support, which Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commander of the U.S. Army’s Forces Command, said is his number one priority.

Training guidance from Abrams stressed that all training events must have a direct correlation to individual and unit readiness and that’s the underlying intent for the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition being held here May 2-5, said Sgt. Maj. Paul J. Klikas, operations and training noncommissioned officer in charge for the U.S. Army Reserve Command based here.

“The individual supporting tasks, which support the collective task of executing the BWC, enhance many of our Soldiers’ skill-level one and two tasks, which include mission command, mission planning, risk assessments, vehicle and weapon familiarization and operation, and staff management,” said Klikas. “If you are participating in an exercise, whether an overseas deployment training exercise, combat support training exercise, Best Warrior, etc., if it is not enhancing or improving readiness, then stop doing it. If it doesn’t facilitate readiness, reevaluate your training methodology and create a training plan which is designed to improve readiness.”

For the past nine months Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Butler and Sgt. 1st Class Casey Martin, both BWC noncommissioned officers in charge, planned the U.S. Army Reserve Command-level competition under the leadership of Klikas.

Part of the planning process includes knowing the tasks and skills laid out in current programs of instruction, which get updated periodically. For example, Martin explained that some POIs used in what he calls “hip-pocket training” were updated in the past 18 months. Most of the drill sergeants here on site went through drill sergeant school more than two years ago.

Additionally, many arrived realizing they haven’t honed their skills in all areas as much as they needed, such as with some of the weapon systems. Sgt. David Brown, a drill sergeant with the 98th Training Division, 108th Training Command, said that it’s been several years since he worked hands on with a few of the weapon systems included in this year’s competition.

These weapon systems are not readily available at the unit level which makes staying proficient a challenge. As NCOIC of the weapon systems lane, Brown said that it’s imperative that he and his team be proficient in all of the systems before the competitors arrive.

Not all of the support staff are drill sergeants, but that doesn’t mean other Soldiers involved aren’t getting good training as well.

It takes bus drivers to move Soldiers, administration personnel to complete behind-the-scenes accountability and tracking, and leaders from all different military occupational specialties to run an event of this size.

“The BWC is a collective training task for the support staff engaged in executing mission command,” Klikas said. “Additionally, the individual tasks, which support the collective task, will not only contribute to mission success but will also serve as a combat multiplier for those Soldiers returning to their home station.”

He added the training they receive during the BWC will give them more confidence at the unit level which translates to executing a variety of skill-level tasks. This confidence leads to a better training venue and thereby individual and unit readiness.

“Stop to think about what happens each morning when we get up and we start a unit movement,” he said. “Being in charge of a formation, moving Soldiers, maintaining accountability. These are all trainable, testable tasks. Here, we are taking a lot of individual tasks and combining them into a collective training event called the Best Warrior Competition, developed to select the most qualified noncommissioned officer and enlisted Soldier in the United States Army Reserve.”

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