From June 29 through July 2, seven Fort Leavenworth soldiers traveled to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to compete in the Best Warrior Competition, which culminated in two of them being named the 2020 Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and the 2020 CAC and Fort Leavenworth Soldier of the Year in a ceremony July 22 in Grant Auditorium.
Sgt. Bryan Jacobo, 15th Military Police Brigade, was named NCO of the Year and Spc. Thomas Snell, 165th MP Company, 705th MP Battalion (Detention), was named Soldier of the Year. Both were presented with Army Commendation Medals by CAC and Fort Leavenworth Commanding General Lt. Gen. James Rainey and CAC and Fort Leavenworth Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Dostie. Dostie also presented them with certificates of achievement on behalf of the Association of the United States Army.
Jacobo and Snell will go on to compete in the Training and Doctrine Command Best Warrior Competition in September. Because of COVID-19 precautions, they are not recompeting in the physical portion of the event. Their Fort Leonard Wood scores have already been submitted and they will compete in their boards virtually.
Additionally, during the ceremony, Sgt. Damon Trace, 165th MP Company, 705th MP Battalion, was named runner-up for NCO of the Year, and Spc. Scott Sartin, 526th MP Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), was named runner-up for Soldier of the Year. Both were presented Army Achievement Medals by Rainey and Dostie.
Trace and Sartin will represent CAC and Fort Leavenworth during the TRADOC competition if Jacobo or Snell are unable.
Other Fort Leavenworth competitors included Sgt. Dominique Goldsborough and Spc. Robert Harris, both of the Mission Command Training Program, and Spc. Ambrosia Sanders, Fort Leavenworth Veterinary Treatment Facility.
“There are few things in the Army, especially with the environment we’re in right now, that really give soldiers the opportunity to push themselves, to challenge themselves to get better and to help each other get better,” Dostie said. “The Best Warrior Competition is an example of that.”
The seven competitors were chosen to compete at Fort Leonard Wood after a year of quarterly boards within their respective organizations, and they spent several weeks in training to prepare for the event.
The first day of the competition included the Army Combat Fitness Test, which consists of three repetition maximum deadlifts, standing power throws, hand release push-ups with arm extension, a sprint-drag-carry, leg tucks and a two-mile run; an alternate course rifle qualification, which consists of 20 shots prone supported, 10 shots prone unsupported and 10 shots kneeling; a day gas mask shoot, which gave competitors two minutes to fire 30 rounds in a standing unsupported position; and a night shoot, which gave competitors two minutes to fire 20 rounds in a standing unsupported position.
The second day included a 12-mile ruck march, a 7.5-mile Expert Soldiers Badge Course, and a nighttime land navigation course.
Day three included a 100-question quiz testing competitors’ Army knowledge, a 30-minute-timed essay that answered the question, “What’s your warrior?”, a daytime land navigation course, a 1,000-meter swim and a stress shoot.
The final day included a formal board to end the competition.
“These soldiers have gone through a pretty grueling event that not only tested their ability to present themselves in front of senior-ranking personnel, but also to demonstrate their tactical and technical proficiency and that is what we ask of every soldier,” Dostie said. “We have a lot to be proud of here, and I think the biggest takeaway is the training that they received they’re going to be able to take back to their units, and it’s only going to make their units better because they are then going to pass it on to their soldiers as well.”
Jacobo said the competition was well-organized by Fort Leonard Wood personnel.
“I think day two was the hardest … because the majority of it was all physical, so to compete at that level physically and keep going and pushing and not stopping and giving up…and having the motivation and perseverance to keep pushing was definitely good,” Jacobo said. “It was pretty grueling, but I loved it.
“I like meeting new people, and during this competition you see people from other installations,” he said. “I’ll miss out on that part (during the TRADOC competition), but since it’s virtual, I’ll have something to focus on. I see a goal. I’ve got to learn the regulations and doctrine of everything and have something to strive for and get better at.”
Snell said the competition was challenging, but he was thankful for the opportunity.
“I think the only thing that didn’t make any of us quit was the fact that we had each other, and we were all pushing each other toward our limits,” Snell said. “It was definitely something worth doing so you can see the limits of yourself and seeing what you can do more of and achieve more.
“I look forward to the (TRADOC competition),” he said. “I’ve never done a virtual board, so what I’ll be doing is I’ll be studying just like I would be doing for regular board, but I’ll make it a little bit interesting and prepare scenarios in my head, practice with other people and, for example, if the camera went out, (practice) keeping calm, keeping my bearings and perform as I normally would and just keep going.”