WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 1, 2015) – This year’s Best Warrior competition has been revamped and moved to Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said the changes to the competition – which selects the Army’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer, or NCO, of the Year – are designed to better assess Soldiers’ basic grasp of Army standards and push beyond them to excel in increasingly challenging circumstances.
“It’s about sending a message across the force to exceed the basic Army standards,” he said.
To better assess Soldiers’ abilities, the competition has been moved from Fort Lee, Virginia – its home for 13 years – to Fort A.P. Hill. The change of venue, Dailey said, allows for a more difficult terrain, which better imitates battlefield environments.
“We want our NCOs and Soldiers to be adaptive on the battlefield,” he said.
In addition to habitat adaptation, Soldiers can no longer expect to complete one task in the absence of additional stressors. While previous competitions asked Soldiers to assemble a weapon and then move onto first aid in a separate scenario, the updated task merges the two. A Soldier may be asked to assemble a weapon from parts while executing a casualty evacuation and administering first aid.
The introduction of distractions, for Dailey, better resembles the expectations in combat and creates a stronger league of leaders in today’s complex world. “It’s exactly how you would replicate it on the battlefield,” Dailey said.
Even as the tasks become more challenging, Soldiers cannot expect leniency should they fail. Any Soldier, who fails to exhibit basic Army standards, will not be allowed to continue to compete. This new regulation isn’t to make the competition “undoable,” Dailey said, but to reinforce in each Soldier the importance of physical and mental readiness.
“You should not be receiving recognition if you cannot pass an Army standard. We have to send a very clear message and we’re going to be consistent with that,” Dailey said.
These Army standards extend beyond the physical to include a deeper understanding of Army history. The finalists will be taken on a staff ride through the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to experience the memorable and sometimes painful Civil War history preserved in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
“It’s the whole Soldier concept,” Dailey said. “We want to make sure everyone is well-rounded.”
In ratcheting up the expectations, the rewards are also greater. The Soldiers who advance to the final round of the competition will attend the Association of the United States Army, or AUSA, luncheon in Washington, D.C. They will be invited to attend professional development sessions at the AUSA’s annual meeting.
Lastly, Dailey will open his home to those declared the best Soldier. With an emphasis on humility and dedication to being the best Soldier possible, Dailey’s dinner with the finalists is not only to recognize their achievements, but to remind them that there is another Soldier looking up to them.
The winners of Soldier and NCO of the Year competitions, from commands across the Army, will compete in the Best Warrior competition in early October.
“It’s prestige and honor that we’re bringing to the Best Warrior Competition. We want to recognize the best of the best of the best,” Dailey said.