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    ARNG Region 5 Best Warrior NCO of the Year 2020

    ARNG Region 5 Best Warrior NCO of the Year 2020

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jim Heuston | Staff Sgt. Marlon Smith, Operations and Training NCO for the National Guard...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Heuston 

    National Guard Professional Education Center

    CAMP ROBINSON, Ark. - A sudden change of plans tested the competitors’ "Always Ready” mindsets during the Army National Guard Region 5 Best Warrior Competition, August 28, 2020. 

    The remnants of Hurricane Laura left the 12-mile ruck march course on Camp Robinson's Cato Road a hazard of fallen trees and muddy gravel.  So while support staff cleared and checked the route for safety, the competitors — ready to start their morning with a 12-mile ruck — changed into their Army Physical Training Uniforms and assembled at the Professional Education Center's Miranda Gym for an Army Combat Fitness Test.

    "Other than just train your body; you have to train your mind," said Staff Sgt. Marlon Smith, champion of the ARNG Region 5 Best Warrior Competition 2020, while holding the Region 5 award, a large champion's belt of silver engraved plates on black leather.  "Unless you have the confidence that comes with doing this every day, you have to train your mind not to give up. You're going to push yourself harder than you've ever pushed yourself, unless you've gone to Ranger School or Special Forces."

    The Region 5 ARNG Best Warrior Competition was originally scheduled to take place in May at the Kansas Training Center in Salina, Kansas, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic then moved to Camp Robinson because of the Kansas National Guard's deployment tempo.

    Smith, a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard, competed for the title of Region 5 Non-commissioned Officer of the Year against Soldiers from Okla., Texas, Kan., Neb., and La., and to represent the region at the ARNG Best Warrior Competition at Camp Shelby, Miss.  Spc. Jacob Arndt, Texas Army National Guard, will join Smith at the nationwide competition as the Region 5 Soldier of the Year.

    "I'm at the point in my career where I've been to a lot of schools.  Now, I want to challenge myself.  The Best Warrior is a way of testing all the skills I've learned to see how good I am or not."  Smith worked as a marksmanship instructor at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center before becoming the Operations and Training NCO at the National Guard Professional Education Center.   

    Teaching is the best teacher, and Smith acknowledges the advantage of having honed his skills instructing Soldiers, but he says, "I don't think I have an edge over any other competitor because there's nothing that I do that no-one else can't. It's all basic skills that every NCO ought to know. It's not job specialty based."

    His secret is not allowing the things you “ought to know” fail you when tested.  "Overall, it's my mindset not to give up.  It all comes down to those skill level one tasks.  It comes down to the fundamentals, trigger squeeze, breath control, sight alignment-sight picture."

    With only a week to recover and prepare before he competes again at Camp Shelby, Smith is keeping to the fundamentals of fitness as well.

    "I'm just trying to keep my body as clean as possible.  I'm monitoring what I eat.  Working out two-a-days.  Rucking and lifting weights, trying to keep my body strong and build up some endurance; I definitely have to hydrate and find tricks to stay hydrated."



    Date Taken: 09.01.2020
    Date Posted: 09.07.2020 10:49
    Story ID: 377552
    Location: NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR, US 
    Hometown: ARLINGTON, VA, US

    Web Views: 208
    Downloads: 0