7th Army Training Command cleans up at Europe Best Warrior

More than 20 soldiers from across the U.S. Army Europe command came together to vie for the title of best junior officer, noncommissioned officer and soldier at the 2016 USAREUR Best Warrior Competition. Over the course of five days, the soldiers had to overcome dozens of obstacles, mental challenges and their own limitations to battle for the top spot. But only three walked away victorious. Music: http://www.purple-planet.com

By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 11, 2016

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The newly rechristened 7th Army Training Command will send two of its enlisted soldiers to battle at the Army-wide test of fortitude, soldierly skills and mental acuity known as the Best Warrior Competition.

Staff Sgt. Ethan Rodgers and Spc. Daniel Guenther overcame physical limitations, mental barriers and wildly fluctuating weather during the grueling five-day-long U.S. Army Europe Best Warrior Competition. With their victory, the two win the title of best noncommissioned officer and soldier, respectively, within USAREUR.

They’ll now go on to represent USAREUR at the servicewide competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., in September.

While there, they’ll have some lofty expectations to live up to.

Last year’s winner at the Department of the Army level was Spc. Jared Tansley, a soldier with the Vilseck, Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Rodgers and Guenther, both assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s opposing forces squad, will once again take up the mantle for the greater U.S. Army in Bavaria community. “I’m kind of nervous,” Guenther said. “But I’m ready. I’m going to train my butt off.”

The USAREUR leg of the competition also pit seven junior officers against one another for the title of best on the Continent. They faced the same challenges as the enlisted grunts, but without the chance of competing for a servicewide prize.

This year’s top officer, a platoon leader with the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade said the competition — all five, muddy, bloody days of it — was its own reward.

“It’s an opportunity to represent the unit; it’s an opportunity to compete,” 1st. Lt. Kendall Ward said. “You get to meet a lot of cool people at the brigade level, and this competition, got to make some friends with other junior officers — really quality people. And it’s fun to get to see the talent that we have in this organization.”

While Ward will head back to Italy and rejoin what daily routine is afforded a soldier, Rodgers and Guenther will now begin training for the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition.

Rodgers said the training plan will probably look a lot like it did leading up to the USAREUR event. Physical training, military studies and days of Army combatives and technical skills training are all on the schedule. A regimented schedule worked out well for the two JMRC combatants this week, and Rodgers said the training regimen handed down by their unit will help carry them to victory at the next level.

“I like to take my job professionally.” Rodgers said. “One thought, or one view of you is all some is going to get, so as long as you’re professional, they’re going to take you seriously.”



First Lt. Kendall Ward, left, Staff Sgt. Ethan Rodgers and Spc. Daniel Guenther raise their trophies after being named the best soldiers in U.S. Army Europe at the end of the USAREUR Best Warrior Competition on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016.