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Best Warrior Competition Provides Excellent Training Opportunity Despite Rain

FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Tuesday night, Army Reservists at Fort McCoy only got 5 hours of sleep. And by daybreak on Wednesday, they were trudging through the rain in full gear on a six mile jog. This is one of many events designed to weed out all but the top soldiers.
These Reserve members came to Fort McCoy from all over the country and since Monday they have been participating in the Best Warrior Competition.

“It’s an opportunity for us as Army Reserve leaders,” said Captain Maryjane Porter of the US Army Reserve, “to make sure that our soldiers are up to par as far as making sure they’re physically and mentally ready to fight.”

And because of the unseasonably cool and wet weather, this competition as been especially taxing.

“It has rained from the very moment we began the competition and it hasn’t let up,” said Major Jesus Cruz of the US Army Reserve.

“Especially the marches,” said Specialist Gregory Doty of the US Army Reserve. “The things where you have to walk with a lot on your back. Your feet get soaked and it causes blisters.”

Despite the difficulties, those involved say the ugly weather only adds to the competition.

“All the soldiers that come here are, they’re the best of their units,” said Cruz. “So they’re all going to be physically fit. But if you lack that mental toughness, I think so many people underestimate that.”

“At the end when you’re tired and your feet are covered in blisters,” said Doty, “you can say ‘that was a ton of fun and I’m really glad I did it.’”

During the competition, soldiers participate in a variety of events that are designed to test both their mental and physical endurance, as well as skills that are needed on the front line.

These events range from properly treating burns and knowing how to search a car, to swimming and marksmanship.

“You feel really tired and you feel like you really want to give up,” said Doty. “But you just keep pushing, you’ve got people behind you that are pushing you forward too and you’ve got people in front of you that you want to pass. And then eventually it’s over and you feel better for it.”

The competition doubles as a training exercise, something organizers say is one of its most important aspects. This is because unlike active military personnel, army reservists only train a few days each month.

“Being and army reserve force we don’t have 24-hour access to our soldiers,” said Porter. “As an Army Reserve force our units, our soldiers, are spread all over the country. Versus active duty where they have 24-hour access to making sure they get trained and they prep their soldiers to make sure they are ready to deploy. On the Army Reserve side of the house we don’t have that.”

Those who participated said that the Best Warrior Competition understand this need and said it motivates them to do their best.

“We need to always be ready,” said Doty. “Combat readiness is the word of the Army Reserve. That’s what we need to be. And so this kind of motivates us to stay in shape and stay ready for the possibility that we might have to go overseas.”

The competition ends on Thursday with an awards ceremony. The four soldiers with the highest scores will move on to the next level of the competition in June.

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