News: US Army Reserve’s 79th SSC Best Warrior Competition brings out the best
Story by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif – A total of six Army Reserve soldiers competed for the coveted title of 79th SSC “Best Warrior,” at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, Calif., April 4–6.
“The Best Warrior Competition creates an incredibly dynamic time for us,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert N. Roberson Jr., senior noncommissioned officer of the 79th Sustainment Support Command. “For us to bring in our enlisted – the best we have – and exercise our professionalism.”
That professionalism shone through out the three-day multi-event competition which tested the soldiers both physically and mentally on various military topics and skills.
The competitors consisted of three junior enlisted and three NCOs who were selected from more than 20,000 warrior-citizens and collectively represented the 4th, 311th, 364th and 451st Expeditionary Support Commands.
“You are the best of the best,” said Roberson. “You have outshone and outlasted everyone else to get here – no matter what happens – you are already winners.”
This year’s competitors included: Staff Sgt. Christopher Tubrick of the 443rd Transportation Company, 450th Movement Control Battalion, 561st Regional Support Group, 451st ESC, headquartered in Elkhorn, Neb.; Sgt. Ryan Kelleher of the 872nd Support Maintenance Company, 96th Sustainment Brigade, 364th ESC, headquartered in North Ogden, Utah; Sgt. Sixto Garcia of the 961st Quartermaster Company, 319th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 211th Regional Support Group, 4th ESC, headquartered in Mcallen, Texas; Spc. Martin Gakuria of the 1011th Quartermaster Company, 329th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 89th Sustainment Brigade, 451th Expeditionary Sustainment Company, headquartered in Independence, Kan.; Spc. Devin Singer of the 851th Transportation Company, 319th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 211th Regional Support Group, 4th ESC, headquartered in Sinton, Texas; Pfc. Daniel Dettman of the 652nd Regional Support Group, 364th ESC, headquartered in Fort Harrison, Mont.
The first BWC was held in 2001 as a competition for the enlisted force of the Army to challenge them and strive for the recognition in the annual title. Now, more than a decade later, the competition is a culmination of a variety of events. It focuses on basic warrior tasks and drills, as well as assesses the individual’s self-development and leadership – encompassing an all around soldier proficiently functioning in the profession of arms.
Roberson said, NCOs are those that mentor, we train, we look after soldiers. We are charged with that responsibility. Our desire to improve our soldiers’ warrior skills is a part of what we do to improve our status as a NCO in the Army’s Profession of Arms.
That is exactly what all the competitors, both junior enlisted and NCOs, strived for throughout the competition. “I want to explore my potential in the military, because I am very competitive,” said Garcia. “I also like to lead by example and set a god example so my soldiers can follow in my steps,”
This year’s competition began with an essay, which tested the competitors in their knowledge of the Profession of Arms and their role in it. Following the written essay, they prepared their mind for further assessment on their Army knowledge during the board. The board appearance checked their Army Dress Uniform for proper fit and placement of awards, and then they were questioned on a wide range of topics by five sergeants major.
Day two began with an Army Physical Fitness Test that was administered early in the morning. Pushing themselves to the limit, all six contestants scored higher than the minimum Army standard for all three events.
Following the APFT, the competitors participated in HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT), which emulates soldier training techniques on how to correctly egress in emergency situations like a vehicle rollover. Although this event was unscored, it afforded each of the soldiers a chance to practice and train on a real word scenario and technique increasing their capabilities and knowledge.
“This is an opportunity for growth and development at each level,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Travis W. Williams, senior noncommissioned officer of the 4th ESC. “It’s not just about them, it’s about the organization and they are responsible to help grow their organization.”
All the activities the soldiers maneuvered throughout the competition served as a test of their skills and abilities, but also served as a valuable training tool for all six of the Warrior-Citizens.
“It provides valuable training, training that isn’t available during the normal training schedule, training that soldiers aren’t exposed to on a regular basis,” said Singer. “This allows me to test my knowledge as well as acquire new experiences so I could relay my skills to my peers.”
The soldiers then zeroed and qualified on a M-16 using the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000. The EST 2000 is a visual weapons simulator computer system designed to enable service members to carry out cost-effective realistic marksmanship training as well as other weapon exercise scenarios.
Close quarters, unarmed combatives was the last event of the second day. The competitors were bracketed against each other in multiple matches. Each match was one, five minute round. After a lot of skillful successful submissions, Tubrick was named winner for the NCOs and Singer amongst the soldiers.
“They have the team mentality but also the individual expertise, strength, espirit de corps and all the qualities of the Army Values,” said Williams.
Although competing against each other for the overall title, through the events of the competition the six candidates bonded over a common sense of respect and understanding. They assisted and cheered each other in good spirits.
Roberson said, “First and foremost we are taught teamwork when we all come in the Army. Though you have your team spirit in you, you still have to have your individual strength that you focus on. That’s where our competitors have to draw that line, where they help their fellow competitor but at the same time recognizing this is an individual competition that pushes them to strive forward.”
On the final day, all the competitors were transported to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the last two events. The soldiers kicked off the day with a road march. All six geared up with a minimum of 35 pounds in their rucksack, helmet and weapon to tackle a 10 km. road march set on a route that consisted of varying degrees of hills.
The six competitors used the performance of their opponents as motivation to increase their own.
“Keep watching your back. I’m right behind and I will catch up,” Singer said to Tubrick during the road march.
Tubrick was the first to finish with a time of one hour and ten minutes. He practically ran the entire route and set the bar high for the remaining competitors.
“I put in a lot of hours to come out a winner,” said Tubrick. “A lot of hours in the gym and training for each event.”
Following the road march, they prepared to direct the land navigation course. During this last event, they were given two hours to locate the prearranged four points. Pushing through the physical exhaustion and thick brush, the Reserve soldiers plotted their differing points and set out on their course to find their respective points. Hoping to beat out their opponents by locating as many points as possible, the competitors came in just seconds before the end of the two-hour countdown sprinting to the finish point.
“It’s important to realize that even though you don’t do this stuff every battle assembly, this is your basic soldiering skills and it’s stuff you should know and need to know,” said Tubrick.
After the challenging three days of strenuous activities, one soldier – Singer and one NCO – Tubrick was awarded the title and will represent the command in the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition scheduled to be held at Fort McCoy, Wis., June 23-28.