We suffered Together & We Thrived as a Team

Best Warrior Competitor Shares Her Insights & Experience

By Sgt. Amber Quill

A few months ago, my first sergeant asked me to compete in the 2022 Combined Best Warrior Competition. This year, multiple divisions combined their efforts into one competition to save money, while still setting up an incredibly difficult and well-organized event. I once helped as cadre at a similar competition, but have never had the pleasure of competing. 

I started training right away, ensuring I was well prepared for all the events. We spent two days competing in many activities, the hardest of which was a twelve-mile ruck in freezing weather. The easiest of  was a round robin event. Competing in the events was only half the battle though. 

At first, I saw this as a solo competition, viewing it as me versus all other competitors. However, that wasn’t the case entirely. Even though the Best Warrior Competition was a solo effort competition, we often relied on our support, other competitors, and the cadre to help us through the difficult exercises. 

My sponsor and first sergeant helped prepare me in the months leading up to the competition. The cadre ensured the competitors were well provided for and made sure we conducted each event safely. There were several sergeants major rucking right alongside us at 4 a.m. in 18-degree weather. I was most moved by Staff Sgt. Oros, who took time out of his ruck march to ensure I was taken care of when my hands were too cold and painful to move or hold my weapon. 

After going through this competition, I am very enthusiastic about the Army changing the structure over to a best squad style of competition. Teams competing will better reflect how we operate in the Army.

We started with 23 competitors, of which I was the only female competing. I think the best thing that can be said about the gender aspect is that it was never a predominant detail. I was expected to compete at the same level, with the same intensity as my male counterparts. I was not praised for doing something that was expected out of all of us. Throughout the duration of this competition, I was neither given preferential treatment, nor looked down on for my gender. 

I was treated the same as everyone else and that is an utterly amazing statement. I am so proud of the environment that the Army has created around gender equality. What an amazing thing to be able to say right in the middle of Women’s History Month. So many women have given so much, so that I could be in the Army and be treated the same as everyone else. I am immensely proud of the professionalism of those who competed alongside me.

I would encourage anyone and everyone to participate in this event at least once in their career. I would especially encourage Reserve and National Guard Soldiers to sign up for this competition. It was challenging, but it also forced many of us to freshen up on the dusty old basics. It was very demanding. Mostly though it was just cold, hard, painful fun. There is something about suffering together with other Soldiers that makes you forget about all those little daily first-world problems. The exhaustion, mud and freezing temperatures function as a great filter that strips away all our cultural divides or differences, leaving us with nothing but our common goal that unites us as Soldiers. It was a wonderful time that I never want to have again.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped make the event happen. The cadre was right there with us every step of the way, working tirelessly. I want to say thank you to the leadership. They could have hid when it snowed, but they were present and participating at every single event as a constant example of good leadership. Also, congratulations to those 108th Soldiers who will be competing at the next level of competition. 

Sgt. Amber Quill is with 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division (Leader Training)

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