News: Soldiers compete to own the title 'Best Warrior'
Story by Staff Sgt. Sharilyn Wells
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- More than a dozen determined soldiers from around the country came together to Fort Bragg, N.C. to compete in the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)’s Best Warrior Competition, May 9 through 12. Even with the unpredictability of North Carolina’s weather, these soldiers were physically and mentally up for any challenge.
Throughout the demanding four-day competition, competitors for both categories (non-commissioned officer and soldier) had to endure rain and high humidity, at least for those not from the South, while performing their best for a physical fitness test, a grueling command sergeant major board, weapons qualification, an obstacle course, a 10K ruck-march, testing of basic warrior tasks, night and day land navigation and combatives.
For Pfc. Justin Arrington, representing the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, completing these daunting tasks was something that he learned from other, more experienced soldiers from his home unit, the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion.
“I had to go through the strengths of my unit and took on multiple mentors,” explained Arrington. “I worked (with people) who were particularly good at PT (physical training) and when it came to marksmanship I did the same. Since we are from the (Washington) D.C. area, we have some federal law enforcement people in the unit and obviously it’s a breath of knowledge that I can use.”
Learning from others’ experiences helped Arrington along the way; which he credits to his successful win. Arrington was announced the USACAPOC(A) Best Warrior in the Soldier Category at an awards ceremony, May 12. He will advance to the next level, the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s Best Warrior Competition this summer.
“First, I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me to get to this point. Next, I’m ready to learn the secrets to the other competitors (from this competition) who beat me in the individual events. There’s always room for improvement,” said Arrington. “Its definitely a great feeling to represent my unit at the next level.”
Arrington is a senior at The American University and is majoring in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Relations. As a Mandarin Chinese speaker, he has lived and worked in China teaching English to local children. Originally from Bethesda, Md., Arrington, a civil affairs specialist, joined the Army at the age of 24 to serve and gain experience in U.S. foreign policy.
Arrington won’t be the only 352nd CACOM soldier to represent USACAPOC(A) at the USARC competition; he will be joined by Staff Sgt. Bret Klatt who won the non-commissioned officer category for the competition.
Shocked by his win, Klatt’s first thought was how he would tell his pregnant wife about competing at USARC.
“Well, I have to first wait for my wife’s shock to die down,” laughed Klatt, whose wife is due to have the couple’s second son soon. “But she’ll be very proud of me and this should be interesting (waiting for the baby) and training.”
Klatt, a Rochester, N.Y., native, joined the Army at 18 years old, following in his family’s tradition. A civil affairs team sergeant for the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion out of Webster, N.Y., Klatt deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and to Iraq in 2007. He earned a Retail Business Management degree from Genesee Community College and works in merchandising for Home Depot.
“I’m extremely proud that I get to represent my unit (at USARC),” said Klatt. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. You learn about your weaknesses and strengths, and you definitely come out a better person.”
USACAPOC(A) is five percent of the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s force and is responsible for 20 percent of Army Reserve deployments. The command is comprised of nearly 12,000 soldiers in 67 units across 31 states. USACAPOC(A) is home to 94 percent of the Department of Defense’s CA capability and 71 percent of the DoD’s PSYOP capability.
“(These soldiers) volunteered to put themselves through this competition. They’re coming out here to prove not only to us that they are very capable of doing this, but proving to themselves as well,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dale R. Blosser, USACAPOC(A) command sergeant major. “They will be going up against other soldiers with just as much drive and determination as themselves (at the USARC competition); it’s going to be tough, but we are very proud of our soldiers. At the end of the day there can only be two winners, but they continue to go on. My hat’s off to them and congratulate them because I know they’ve put their whole hearts into this competition and will continue to do so.”
Both winners will represent USACAPOC(A) at the USARC Best Warrior Competition to be held at Fort McCoy, Wis., in June.