NEWS | March 9, 2021

Best Warrior competitions: A focus on physical and mental strength

By Master Sgt. Emily Anderson 353rd Civil Affairs Command

When joining the Army Reserve, you may expect to find yourself shooting a weapon or completing an obstacle course, but not imagine participating in a competition that encompasses these activities. However, these events and others like them make up a Best Warrior Competition, which encourages Soldiers to train in physical and mental tasks to maintain readiness.

This was the case for Staff Sgt. Riley Greenwald and Spc. Daniel Bush when they competed in a combined Best Warrior Competition hosted by the 352nd Civil Affairs Command (CACOM) on February 17-21, 2021.

“I feel these types of events continue to increase comradery and challenge everyone mentally and physically,” said Greenwald, a civil affairs Soldier assigned to the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, the 308th Civil Affairs Brigade, the 353rd CACOM. “The layout of the competition really makes you dig deep.”

Greenwald, the Larsen, Wisconsin native, was victorious and earned top honors by being named as the NCO of the Year for the 353rd CACOM.

“This event is no cake walk. It is easy to get physically in shape, but you will definitely use some muscles that have not been used in a while,” he said. “Knowledge building also takes time and effort.”

Regardless of the challenge, Greenwald knew he was not in the competition alone, and used his leadership team to help him along the way.

“Competitors should use everyone in their chain of command because everyone comes from different fields and have more knowledge than most of us know what to do with anymore,” Greenwald said. “I want to thank my Sponsor, fellow competitors, and the entire chain of command for entrusting that I would represent our unit to the best of my abilities.”

While the competition included a board appearance, weapons qualification and testing on the Army Combat Fitness Test, the event truly tested the competitors’ resilience and leadership skills too.

“There is a lot of experience and knowledge at these events not only from the cadre but also from the other competitors,” said Bush, a civil affairs Soldier assigned to the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, the 308th Civil Affairs Brigade, 353rd CACOM. “Every one of the competitors attempted to help the other competitors.”

“You will have the Soldiers you are competing against cheering you on and trying to help you do better,” he added. “At the end of the day, even if you do not win, you still learn and become a more proficient Soldier.”

Bush, hailing from Macomb, Minnesota, knew this event would not be easy, so he found ways to increase his routine fitness plan before the start of the competition.

“I usually exercise 5-6 days a week; lifting weights in the morning and doing runs outside in the afternoon when weather permits or on a treadmill if the weather is bad,” he said. “On Sundays, I go for longer runs—anywhere from 6-10 miles.”

“I also studied as much as I could,” Bush added. “I imagined what topics could come up during the board and tried to get a basic format for answers.”

This proved to be key, because at the end of the competition Bush had earned not only the 353rd CACOM Soldier of the Year title, but the competition’s overall Soldier of the Year honors.

“It feels good and a bit stressful,” Bush said. “I am still not sure how that happened because there was some great competition.”

The hard work is not over yet however, both Greenwald and Bush will now represent the 353rd CACOM during the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) competition scheduled April 5-11, 2021, and both hope to make it to the Army Reserve level competition.

“I will keep training hard,” said Bush. “For the physical side, I will probably do a bit more rucking and speed work … For the knowledge portions, I will study my Warrior Tasks and Drills, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, regulations, and current events, I will do the best I can and try to make the unit and command proud,” he concluded.