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1st Armored Division Soldiers compete for top spot in: Best Warrior competition

Staff Sgt. Robert Egland, assigned to 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, low crawls under the razor wire at the Air Assault Obstacle Course as he competes in the 1st Armored Division’s Best Warrior Competition here April 11. See page A8 for the full story. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle staff.

Staff Sgt. Robert Egland, assigned to 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, low crawls under the razor wire at the Air Assault Obstacle Course as he competes in the 1st Armored Division’s Best Warrior Competition here April 11. See page A8 for the full story. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle staff.

By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle staff:

(El Paso, Texas, April 20, 2017) What does it take to be the best? Here at Fort Bliss, Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division found out. Over the course of three days, Soldiers from across the division were put to the test during the initial phase of the Best Warrior Competition.

This year marks the 16th annual Best Warrior Competition for the United States Army.

Cadre assigned to 1st Armored Division’s Iron Training Detachment developed a series of tasks and missions to push all participants’ mental and physical agility to the limits.

The Best Warrior Competition tested all competitors on basic Soldier skills- skills Soldiers started learning day one of basic training. Tasks ranged from a standard Army Physical Fitness Test, obstacle courses, casualty evacuation, call for fire, a military knowledge board, 12-mile ruck march and a live-fire stress shoot.

Sgt. Kody Presswood, assigned to 127th Aviation Support Bn., Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st AD, evaluates a casualty during the competition April 11.

Sgt. Kody Presswood, assigned to 127th Aviation Support Bn., Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st AD, evaluates a casualty during the competition April 11.

Participants had to stay alert, unsure of what to expect next. Excelling at every task was the only option; everything was graded and timed.

“Each Soldier had to go through an internal brigade selection process,” said 1st Sgt. Ricardo Saspe, Iron Training Detachment first sergeant. “This is the initial phase that will determine who from Fort Bliss goes to the corps (III Corps) competition at Fort Hood.”

The grueling screening and testing process identified the best Soldiers to represent 1st AD.

Cpl. Von Marie Donato, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, qualifies during the 1st AD’s Best Warrior Competition here April 12

Cpl. Von Marie Donato, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, qualifies during the 1st AD’s Best Warrior Competition here April 12

In the end, two competitors came out on top, one noncommissioned officer, and one junior enlisted Soldier. This year’s NCO winner is Sgt. Vicente D. Torres-Vazquez, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD. The junior enlisted Soldier winner is Spc. George H. Kinsey, also assigned to 3rd Bn., 41st Inf. Regt.

Torres competed last year at Fort Hood, Texas, as 1st Armored Division’s representative in the junior enlisted Soldier category. Although he didn’t win at III Corps last year, he was compelled to try again. Torres plans to work hard to make it to the winners circle at the III Corps competition this year.

“I’m proud I won this year’s (for 1st AD), but I know I have room for improvement,” Torres said.

A competitor climbs a rope at the Air Assault Obstacle Course April 11.

A competitor climbs a rope at the Air Assault Obstacle Course April 11.

Torres encouraged other NCOs to see what they’re made of and compete in competitions such as the Best Warrior Competition.

“The uncertainties of what to expect next is a great training experience,” Torres said. “It challenges you as a warrior, not only to evaluate your own skill set, but how well you will be able to train your Soldiers.”

Kinsey is a prime example of Torres’ remarks regarding how NCOs train Soldiers, as he is a Soldier in Torres’ own unit. The two trained together, supporting one another the whole way through.

“I encourage everyone to go out and compete; this is a great opportunity to set yourself apart from your peers,” Kinsey said. “The only thing that sets us apart from our peers is what you have done and what they have not. We all have had the same training.”

Torres and Kinsey will represent 1st AD at III Corps’ Best Warrior Competition later this year.

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