|U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class David Smith starts to shoot
a M9 pistol at targets during the 2014 Army Best Warrior
Competition (BWC) at Fort Lee, Va.
"During the competition, we constantly were told 'this is the best of the best' and it was. I gained a high level of respect for all the competitors; they truly were the epitome of an American soldier," Smith said. "Overall, I was satisfied with my performance, but like all training events, I try to reflect on both the good and bad and apply the lessons learned to the next task."
Smith advanced to the all-Army competition by winning noncommissioned officer (NCO) of the year competitions earlier this year at U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees Army ROTC programs at 250 colleges and universities across the nation, and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the command responsible for training the U.S. Army at all levels.
"We are exceptionally proud of SFC Smith's performance at the Army Best Warrior Competition," said Col. Todd Wilson, professor of military science at UNG. "To earn the opportunity to compete in such a competition is impressive, and to place as the second runner-up in a field of talented competitors is an amazing accomplishment."
The winners of the Army Best Warrior Competition, an intensive, four-day competition that selects the Army's top NCO and top soldier, were:
- Non-commissioned Officer of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Carpenter, a psychological operations specialist with 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Fort Carson, Colorado.
- Soldier of the Year: Spc. Thomas Boyd, a cryptologic linguist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The Best Warrior Competition promotes espirit de corps and recognizes soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the warrior ethos and represent the force of the future. The events test competitors' Army aptitude: conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, essays and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today's operating environment.
Smith said one of the most challenging aspects of the competition was the unknown.
"We were given different grid coordinates and, upon arrival, were immediately tested on different tasks ranging from urban operations to first aid," he said.
As the competition wrapped up on Thursday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III visited Fort Lee to view the events and speak with the soldiers. Odierno spoke to the entire group of 28 during a break in the competition.
"To be non-commissioned officers and good soldiers, it's about that mix of the physical and the mental," he said. "You've got to be physically fit. You've got to be mentally capable of making decisions, especially when you're getting tired. Part of this is to stress yourself physically and thinking through problems while under that stress."
Soldiers and non-commissioned officers who can handle this type of pressure in real-life situations are the leaders the 21st century Army needs, Odierno said.
"Being non-commissioned officers in the future is about taking on challenges. We're going to continue putting you in places where significant challenges exist," he said. "It's about overcoming those and overcoming unknown and figuring out the right solutions. That's the kind of leaders we want; adaptable leaders who can think on their feet, who can accomplish tasks you might not be prepared to do and might not have seen before, but now have to figure out."
Smith's entry marked the first time that a UNG instructor participated in the Best Warrior Competition, which featured 14 best NCO competitors and 14 best soldier competitors representing the U.S. Army's Forces Command, Materiel Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Corps of Engineers, Intelligence and Security Command, Reserve, West Point, Medical Command, and service components from around the world such as forces deployed in Africa, Europe and the Pacific.