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By Sgt. Eric Johnson
Special to The Citizen
To be warrior, it takes strength and courage–being the best warrior requires a whole lot more.
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s 2017 Best Warrior Competition version challenged the junior enlisted and noncommissioned officer competitors on their mental and physical readiness, Feb. 13-15.
The BWC kicked off on day one in the wee hours of the morning, beginning with the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) under a cold, gray sky, followed by a full equipment layout inspection. An oral board and essay came next. The last challenge of the day was an obstacle course, never an easy task, even for a seasoned Soldier. The sun didn’t break through the clouds until the last competitor was finishing the course.
“When you come to permanent party and you do those warrior skills, they’re going to force you, make you do those tasks uncomfortably,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mariano Z. Alvarez, USAG Stuttgart. “It will test your stamina and test your pride.”
With a chill in the air and sun beaming up over the horizon, it was time for day two, beginning with the range. Competitors zeroed and qualified on their M4 rifles at the indoor shooting range on Panzer Kaserne. Once done at the range, they were immediately pressed into the next tasks, a situational training exercise (STX) with a series of Soldier skills. The four STX stations forced the competitors outside of their comfort zones and out of their primary military occupational skills. Fortunately for the competitors, Mother Nature was kinder this year; last year’s BWC was 180 degrees opposite, with freezing rain, sleet and just downright miserable conditions. This time it was cool and sunny. The second day finished with day and night land navigation.
“It’s good for Soldiers to see that senior NCO’s are still out there doing things such as the Best Warrior Competition.” said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Frye, Director of Emergency Services. “Seeing senior leadership step up gives the junior enlisted the added drive and push to want to do the same.”
The light at the end of the tunnel on day three could be seen after the competitors got past the 12-mile timed road march. Carrying a 35-pound rucksack and wearing an Improved Outer Tactical Vest, they were off. In order to complete the final task, they needed to finish the road march in less than three hours. This was the final event for them to pick up points.
“Going into this event, I came in as a young private. I have only been in the Army seven months; I don’t have the same training as the NCO’s get,” Pvt. Joshua Young said. Young represented the garrison Religious Support office. “This has been some of the best training experiences so far in my short time in the Army.”
To be the best, you have to beat the best. The USAG Stuttgart Soldier of the Year is Pvt. Joshua Young, and Staff Sgt Jay Cortner, DES, is the NCO of the Year. Young and Cortner will represent Stuttgart at the Installation Management Command-Europe competition, March 19-23 in Ansbach, Germany.
View the photo album here.
What’s in a Best Warrior Competition?
Competitors who took part in the three-day competition had to successfully complete the following tasks:
-12-mile ruck march
-Situational Training Exercise (STX), with four stations, warrior tasks and battle drills
-Zero and weapon qualification on the M4 carbine
-Day and night land navigation