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Old Guard Soldiers meet combat-like stress head on in the 2012 MDW

Best

Warrior

Competition Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Megan Garcia

Spc. Paul Welte, a food service specialist with the 529th Regimental Support Company, checks his target during a range test at the Military District of Washington Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 25. The competition pitted 11 MDW Soldiers against each other in events showcasing many Soldier skills including shooting, physical fitness and uniform inspections.


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gt. 1st Class Courtland Devine, Staff Sgt. Andrew Luksa mental Support Company. “I actually had to work hard just and Spc. Paul Welte, competed against eight other to move [the dummy] around. It definitely felt like a real Soldiers in this year’s Military District of Washington Best human being.” Warrior competition, July 24-27, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. The Soldiers finished their first day of competition by preLike previous competitions, Soldiers were tested on their paring their weapons for the next round of events. performance of the Army Physical Fitness Test [APFT], Competitors began the next day with marksmanship and basic Army skills training lanes, weapreflexive fire ranges while also assessons qualification, day and night land ing their decision-making skills during navigation, multiple choice and written a virtual range exercise. During the exams and a military appearance board. exercise, Soldiers were given a variety of However, this year’s events were slightly scenarios and forced to choose whether altered to measure competitors’ abilities the situation warranted lethal force. to adapt and overcome as well as their “The training puts you out of your mental and physical fortitude. comfort zone,” said Welte. “You have Kicking off the competition, Soldiers to make decisions on whether or not were administered an APFT which to use deadly force and you’re alone so normally consists of timed push-ups, there is no one else to back you or assist sit-ups and a two-mile run. However, you in the decision. It also teaches you Sgt. 1st Class just how important it is to control your for this PT test, a 60-yard progressive Courtland Devine emotions.” shuttle run and a standing long jump had been added. After finishing the test, At 11:30 p.m., after completing the Devine said he was surprised at the additional events. shooting portion of the competition and the day and night “It definitely changes the dynamics and adds a little more land navigation courses, the exhausted competitors tackled in between the run. There is definitely a lot less down time,” a 50-question test and a 600-word essay. said Devine, Fife and Drum Corps section leader, referring “It’s stressful,” said Luksa. “I absolutely wanted to go to bed to the lack of the ten-minute rest period Soldiers normally but you can’t relax until you get the job done.” get prior to starting the two-mile run. On the last day, and after only four hours of sleep, competiDevine wasn’t the only Soldier taken aback by the untors completed a 6-mile road march, a board appearance, a expected. Welte said he wasn’t anticipating the life-like test on correctly inspecting a uniform and a mock scenario mannequins at the training lane’s medical station. The on how to interact with the media. dummies, imitating what a real human casualty would feel “It was a lot of physical activity followed by a lot of brain like, weighed approximately 100 pounds more than the ones power, and by that time you are really tired and you are tryused in Combat Lifesaver training [CLS], the Army’s basic ing to compensate and over think everything,” said Devine. first aid course. “You have to cope and react to all the stress and the de“I was expecting the light dummies we use during CLS mands that are being placed on you.” training,” said Welte, food service specialist, 529th RegiRussell Blevins, Operations Specialist, Joint Force Head-

“It

was a lot of physical activity followed by a lot of brain power. You have to cope and react to all the stress.

Welte participates in the shuttle run event of an Army physical fitness test during the MDW Best Warrior Competition. The shuttle run is not a normal part of the APFT, and caught some Soldiers by surprise. Welte won the competition for junior enlisted Soldiers and will go on to the Army-wide competition at Fort Lee, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Courtland Devine (bottom), Fife and Drum Corps section leader, holds another competitor in a leg lock during the combatives portion of the MDW Best Warrior Competition July 26, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. Devine was one of three Old Guard Soldiers who competed for the title of MDW’s “Best Warrior.”

Staff Sgt. Andrew Luksa, infantryman, Bravo Company, plots points on a map for the nighttime land navigation course during the MDW Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 26. During this event, Soldiers had to plot points from coordinates given to them and find the locations using only a red flashlight.

quarters - National Capital Region/ MDW, said the plan was for the Soldiers to be caught off guard and fatigued. Implementing these factors showed Soldiers the stressors they may encounter in combat. Luksa and Devine admitted the theory worked. “Even though we were tired, we didn’t get to stop whenever we wanted,” said Luksa. “It’s like a deployment, there is no rest until the mission is complete. These Soldiers who haven’t deployed get a feel of what it’s like to be in constant working mode.”

“We had to be prepared for anything which is what we always should be able to do,” Devine added. Welte and Staff Sgt. Tyler Turner, human intelligence collector, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, won the junior enlisted and noncommissioned officer categories. They will advance to compete in the Army-wide Best Warrior Competition, Oct. 15-18, at Fort Lee, Va. “I’m pretty happy with myself,” said Welte. “I’m glad I’m moving forward. I look forward to the next challenge and I’m prepared to start training even harder.”


Old Guard Best Warrior Story