NEWS | June 15, 2015

USARCENT holds best warrior competition

By Sgt. Leon Cook U.S. Army Central

Seven Soldiers gave their all during the U.S. Army Central Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year competition June 1-4.

Four junior-enlisted Soldiers and three NCOs from four different commands competed for the top spots during four days of grueling physical and mental challenges to show their mastery of basic Soldier skills.

Coming out on top were Spc. Drummond Smithson, an air defense battle management system operator with Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and Sgt. Jaime Pilcher a medic from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The two emerged as the USARCENT Best Warrior Soldier and NCO of the Year.

Soldiers started the competition at Camp Buehring. In the pre-dawn hours of day one, competitors displayed their muscular endurance and cardio-respiratory fitness by taking an Army physical fitness test. The APFT was just the beginning of what would prove to be the most physically demanding day of the competition, which included a physical challenge and night urban orienteering.

Soldiers got another early start on the second day. Before the sun came up and the mercury rose, the seven Soldiers embarked upon a 12-mile ruck march to the Udairi Range Complex. Upon arrival to the range, competitors demonstrated their mastery of the fundamentals of basic rifle marksmanship. Soldiers had to maintain a steady position, attain a proper sight picture, control their breathing, and control their trigger squeeze as they zeroed and qualified with M16 rifles they had been issued for the competition.

That afternoon, the seven competitors were back in the Kuwaiti heat to put their knowledge of basic Warrior tasks and battle drills to the test. The junior Soldiers displayed their knowledge of first aid, land navigation and the use of Army weapons systems. The NCOs were tested on more advanced skills such as requesting a medical evacuation or calling for and adjusting artillery fire onto a target.

On the morning of day three the competitors participated in another physical challenge before they loaded the bus to Camp Arifjan, where they would finish out the competition. The Soldiers brought their day to a close by putting their Modern Army Combative skills to the test in a tournament. Although there were some size mismatches and many Soldiers had to tape their blistered feet, all of the competitors grappled to the best of their abilities.

“I’m about ready to sleep for a week. Maybe two,” said Spc. Sasha Rogers, a medic with 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

On the fourth and final day of competition, Soldiers appeared before a board of command sergeants major and answered questions about Army doctrine and Soldier knowledge.

Points received throughout the competition were tallied following the completion of the board and the winners were announced June 5 during an awards ceremony at Camp Arifjan. Both of the winners received Army Commendation Medals and trophies. They will go on to represent USARCENT at the Forces Command annual competition in August.

“My biggest (way to prepare) is probably going to be studying for that board,” Smithson said. “Even though I was consistent here, I got beat out pretty badly by one of the competitors at the board.”

Pilcher also said he’ll focus on studying for the board as he prepares for the next level of competition.

“We’re at a weird time in the Army where the Army study guide can’t be depended on anymore, so you really have to read doctrine,” Pilcher said. “And I need to really physically train. These guys are just going to be on a different level. I have a theory … they’re going to be smarter than me or faster than me, but they’re not going to be both.