Instructor to compete in Army Best Warrior competition
(Aug. 27, 2014) Sgt. First Class David Smith, a military science instructor at the University of North Georgia (UNG), will compete in the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition in October after winning Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year competitions at both the brigade and division level.
Smith won U.S. Army Cadet Command's five-day NCO of the Year competition at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in late July against sergeants first class from Cadet Command's other eight brigades. It marks the third year in a row that a military science instructor from UNG has won at the Cadet Command level, which oversees Army ROTC programs at 250 colleges and universities across the nation.
He repeated his success on Aug. 8 by winning the weeklong U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) competition at Fort Eustis, Virginia. TRADOC is the command responsible for training the U.S. Army at all levels.
Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey, TRADOC's command sergeant major and ceremony host, said the competition provided an opportunity to spend time with the best of the best.
"It is an absolute pleasure to spend time with the quality we have in this room … you truly represent your commands, and I am extremely proud to have spent a week with you and watch you perform," he said.
It marks the first time that a UNG instructor will be participating in the Best Warrior Competition, which could feature up to 23 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.
Col. Todd Wilson, professor of military science at UNG, called Smith's win a "tremendous accomplishment" that illustrates the quality of instructors in UNG's Department of Military Science.
"The University of North Georgia Department of Military Science is staffed with extremely competent NCOs and officers; SFC Smith’s selection as the TRADOC NCO comes as no surprise to me, and helps to convey the extremely high caliber of instructors we have on the UNG Army ROTC team," Wilson said. "SFC Smith is an extremely competent NCO and his ability to 'lead, develop, and achieve' are clearly impressive."
Smith, who hails from Dillon, South Carolina, joined the Army in 2001 as a tank loader and gunner and had been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait and stationed on bases in Kentucky, Georgia and Alaska before his assignment to UNG.
"The competition was great among all of the non-commissioned officers. In any competition you learn so much about yourself and you learn so much from your peers who you're competing with," Smith said. "The Army fosters a continuous learning environment and, in a competition like that, you continue to develop your leadership abilities and your technical and tactical knowledge."
The competitors, whose rank is sergeant first class, are tested in a number of areas that a soldier deployed overseas could potentially face, but aren't advised ahead of time what the trials will be, nor are they kept apprised of their scores throughout the events. The competitors could face any one of 40 Army warrior task and battle drills.
"You prepare for it physically and you prepare for it mentally," Smith said. "I think virtuosity is what they're looking for – someone who's well-rounded, who performs well at several key performance tasks."
While it is an extremely tough and physically demanding competition, Smith said it's a friendly one and the experience is very rewarding.
"Coming here and competing with these noncommissioned officers and soldiers -- it re-energizes you and motivates you to be the best soldier you can possibly be."
In a separate honor, Smith also has been inducted into the Audie Murphy Club, which requires nominees to go through a series of boards at brigade, battalion and cadet command. Established in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas, the Audie Murphy Club honors NCOs who show excellence and genuine concern for their soldiers and their community.