Staff Sgt. Joshua Mubarak, a fire support specialist assigned to 25th Infantry Division, deadlifts 340 pounds on July 19 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, during the Army Combat Fitness Test for the 2022 Army Pacific Best Squad Competition. Army photo by Pfc. Mariah Aguilar, 25th Infantry Division.
Twelve teams of soldiers, ranging from infantry grunts stationed in Hawaii to intelligence troops from Virginia, will face off at Fort Bragg, starting Thursday, Sept. 29, in the Army's first service-wide Best Squad competition.
The competition begins early Thursday morning with the Army's new physical assessment, the Army Combat Fitness Test, which includes a 2-mile run, pushups, and a three-rep maximum deadlift.
After the fitness test, soldiers will spend much of the rest of the day on a land-navigation course.
Over the eight total days at Fort Bragg, a dozen five-person squads, each representing a different Army command, will participate in events that include a 12-mile foot march, an obstacle course, and a stress shoot.
Spc. Marcus Grant, assigned to US Army Japan, looks through his compass July 18, 2022, at Lightning Academy, Hawaii, during the land-navigation portion of the 2022 Army Pacific Best Squad Competition. US Army photo by Pfc. Mariah Aguilar.
Each squad will have the same basic makeup: five enlisted troops, including a squad leader, who is a sergeant first class or staff sergeant; a team leader, who is a sergeant or corporal; and three junior soldiers.
Events at Fort Bragg will wrap on Oct. 5, then move on to a nonfield — but in some ways more intimidating — finale. The top four squads will travel to Washington, DC, for face-to-face review-board-style interviews at the Pentagon with a panel of sergeant majors from across the Army, including Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.
From the top four squads, the board will select the best squad as well as the best noncomissioned officer, or NCO, and the best soldier of the year.
Unlike similar competitions around the Army in which scores are kept throughout, the squads won’t know for sure who's leading the competition until the final results are announced, Pentagon planner Sgt. Maj. Phil Blaisdell told Coffee or Die Magazine.
"No one will know," Blaisdell said. "I know like Best Ranger, they post scores on social media and everything. We're not doing that."
The Army Pacific command 2022 Best Squad Competition winners — from left, Staff Sgt. Angel Dinsmore, Sgt. Justin Pitts, Spc. Alexander Ralph Holmes, Spc. Logan Michael Dornon, and Spc. Jonathan Renfro — stand for a group photo with their awards at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, August 29, 2022. US Army photo by Spc. Joshua Oller.
To reach the Fort Bragg finals, each squad had to win a series of competitions, from the brigade level all the way up through command, Blaisdell said. The finals will be each team's fifth competition of the year.
In late July, a squad stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from the 25th Infantry Division, won its ticket to the finals to represent US Army Pacific command, or USARPAC. Squads from other geographically-based commands will come from Europe and Africa and the Military District of Washington.
After three days of challenges in August, a squad from the 1st Information Operations Command clinched its place in the finals to represent Cyber Command. Other operational commands sending teams include Forces, Training and Doctrine, Materiel, Special Operations, Futures, and Medical.
The National Guard and Reserve will also send teams.
Grinston will announce the winning squad at the Association of the United States Army, or AUSA, Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, DC, on Oct. 12.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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