CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait –
Fourteen Soldiers faced off at the 2016 U.S. Army Central Command Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Competition, 19-21 June. Sgt. Hunter Bishop, a mental health specialist with the 88th Medical Deployment Support Command and Spc. Armando Gobel, health care specialist with the 10th Combat Support Hospital battled temperatures nearing 120 degrees to emerge victorious.
The competition was comprised of multiple events designed to test the Soldiers mental and physical capabilities while focusing on warrior tasks.
“Every competitor has a primary job that they do in the Army,” said Master Sgt. Raymond Alston, noncommissioned officer in charge of the competition. “They are all Soldiers first and it’s critical for them to be able to excel at performing the basic Army warrior tasks which is what this competition is all about.”
During the competition, Soldiers completed events that included: a six-mile ruck march, Army Physical Fitness Test, rifle qualification, two physical event challenges, a board appearance, written examination, combative tournament, and warrior tasks.
Prior to the contest, Soldier-sponsors helped their competitors prepare by mentoring and training with them. The sponsors accompanied their Soldiers throughout the competition, cheering them on and motivating them to push past their limits.
“It’s important to be prepared for this competition because these Soldiers don’t get the chance to do this every day. This really gives them an opportunity to stand out and show all the things they’re capable of outside of their job scope,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Collins, Soldier sponsor for Spc. Dayanna Sanchez, and operating room specialist with the 53d Head and Neck Surgery Team.
Collins said it was a great opportunity for the sponsors to teach and learn from their Soldiers while having fun watching them succeed.
Preparation is often the key to success in most things and the competition was no exception.
“I prepared as much as possible for the event but in a competition like this, no matter what you do, it’s always going to be difficult to go above and beyond the standard set,” said Sgt. Giovanni Jimenez, competitor and practical nursing specialist with the 10th Combat Support Hospital.
Today’s Army is faced with constantly evolving operations and readiness is paramount for success in accomplishing the mission.
“For the past 16 years we’ve had operations going on in this region and for us to sustain them we have to stay proficient by constantly training ourselves and our Soldiers in the environment around us so when we come together collectively we can complete our mission,” said Jimenez.
The competition was unique being the only one of its kind held in a deployed environment. Managing an event like this was no small feat and the organizers overcame numerous obstacles to prepare it for the Soldiers.
Alston, who has been involved with events like this for the past seven years, said that it was important to hold this competition here because it keeps Soldiers active, engaged, and motivated.
“We’re training the next generation of the Army, so I want to make sure they are better than my peers and I. They are the future,” said Alston.
The event promoted education, physical fitness and teamwork even though participants were competing against each other.
“The Soldiers really learned a lot and helping one another study and better each other throughout the competition despite having to compete against one another,” said Collins.
The winners will continue on to represent USARCENT at the U.S. Forces Command NCO and Soldier of the Year competition at Fort Bragg, N.C. held later this year.