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Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores (bottom) wrestles with a "detainee" during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany.
Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores (bottom) wrestles with a "detainee" during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany. (Seth Robson / S&S)
Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores (bottom) wrestles with a "detainee" during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany.
Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores (bottom) wrestles with a "detainee" during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany. (Seth Robson / S&S)
In this 2010 file photo, Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores, right, searches a ``detainee`` during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany.
In this 2010 file photo, Southern European Task Force soldier of the year Spc. Ashly Flores, right, searches a ``detainee`` during the U.S. Army Europe Soldier of the Year competition at Grafenwöhr, Germany. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Spc. Ashly Flores had just entered the plywood building in the woods at Grafenwöhr Training Area when a woman posing as a detainee started raining blows on her.

Moments later, the pair wrestled on the floor as the young soldier struggled to regain control of the situation.

Flores, the Southern European Task Force soldier of the year, was demonstrating her skills in “combatives” — the Army’s system of unarmed combat — in an effort to become the U.S. Army Europe soldier of the year.

USAREUR Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa said this is the first time combatives have been part of the four-day USAREUR Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competitions.

One of the NCOs who helped organize the contests, Sgt. 1st Class Steven Stenfill, 40, of Alamogordo, N.M., said the “combatives” lane required soldiers to follow correct procedures to detain an individual.

“All they know is that the lane will involve combatives. They have to search them before they get them to the interrogation room.

“In the interrogation room a fight breaks out. They have to break it up but they are attacked in the process. They have to react quickly to subdue their attacker,” he said.

This year’s competitions also saw the introduction of reflexive fire and Humvee rollover drills, Savusa said.

A mystery task in the competitions involved overcoming the language barrier and organizing a group of German soldiers to evacuate a casualty from a building, Savusa said.

The contests retained events from past years such as day and night land navigation and day and night weapons qualification, he said.

Competitors have impressed Savusa with their attitudes, he said.

“This year, we have the right competitors competing. They have all exemplified the character of the warrior ethos required to compete at this level. It is a very close race so far,” he said.

Savusa was particularly impressed by the last soldier to finish a 15-kilometer ruck march on Tuesday night.

“She wasn’t going to quit, and maintained a great attitude,” he said.

Savusa also praised the work of the NCOs who organized the competitions and personnel from the 7th Army NCO Academy who helped run the events.

Sgt. Maj. Brad Weber, 46, of Van Nuys, Calif., another NCO overseeing the contests, said soldiers are graded on every event and must answer questions in front of a board of NCOs.

The winners will be revealed at an awards dinner in Heidelberg next week, he said.

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