Soldiers battle it out at Fort Gordon to be named "Best Warrior"
FORT GORDON, GA (WFXG) -
They fight together-soldiers from the 335th Signal Brigade.
But Saturday at Fort Gordon, they battle each other, hoping to earn the title of "Best Warrior."
The soldiers have come from all over the country to compete and for the past three days, that's what they've done- putting themselves through the grinder in several events that test their skills in real-life situations.
"It produces real-life experience, as close to real life as possible," says 2012 Best Warrior Competition Cadre SFC Mark Clarke. "We need our training to be realistic. We need our soldiers to be engaged. And we need a platform where they can actually use this as a learning experience."
"This whole competition pretty much rings your body out," says competitor Army SPC Michael Swan.
They've already made it through a 10K Road March, Physical Fitness tests, and Warrior Tasks.
On Saturday, the final piece of the contest, hand-to-hand combatives, was completed.
The soldiers battle it out in the sand pit, attempting to establish dominance. The fight is over when one soldier forces another to "tap out" due to a submission, or after five minutes if no submission is forced. The referee then decides the winner.
"There's a steady calm in there," says Swan. "And it's interrupted by a whistle blow or some guy yelling, 'Go get him!,' and then your calm is just shattered."
But there's a reason for the madness- to enhance skills needed for potential real-life combat.
"If you get attacked, you can at least hold off your opponent until your battle buddies get there, and that's the initial point of combatives," explains Army SGT Stanley Garrastazu.
The competition is physically demanding, but it tests much more than the limits of the body.
The events are designed to test soldiers mentally as well. Besides the fitness tests and road marches, competitors also write essays and are grilled on their knowledge of the workings of the US Army.
Even combatives, competitors say, is as mentally tasking as it is physically.
"The wrestling in there is like a chess match," says Army SPC David Woulard. "You have to think moves ahead."
"I actually consider the road march a mental event," says Garrastazu. "It's not that hard to walk. It's just mental to keep on trucking."
The overall winner of the contest will move on to represent the 335th Signal Brigade in the US Army Reserve Best Warrior competition this summer. If they can win that, they move on to compete again, this time hoping to be named "Best Warrior" in the entire US Army.
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