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NEWS | May 1, 2023

N.J. Army National Guard seeks 'Best Warrior'

By Senior Airman Matt Porter 87th Air Base Wing

U.S. Army Support Activity Fort Dix hosted the New Jersey Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition from April 24 - 27, 2023, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition is a physically and mentally challenging three-day competition that tests competitors on a variety of technical and tactical skills sets. Competitors employ a range of skills relevant to today’s operating environment, including physical endurance, land navigation, marksmanship, weapons skills, and overall combat readiness. The competition culminates with an appearance before a board of sergeants major, afterwards, the winners are then announced and proceed to the next level of competition.

“This event is limited to NJARNG service members, who come from diverse backgrounds and career specialties,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Piotr Jenczelewski, 1-114th Infantry Regiment platoon sergeant. “We have competitors from military occupational specialties such as infantrymen, cannon crewmember, transportation specialist, combat medic, engineer specialist, military police, satellite communications operator, chemical specialist, and cavalry scout to name a few.”

The BWC has been ongoing since 2002, and is open to all NJARNG personnel and its sister branches. The N.J. Air National Guard, for example, has taken part in the competition on numerous occasions in the past.

Joint Force participation allows others services exposure to Army specific training that they may not access to otherwise.

“The basis for the BWC is derived from a litany of other competitions such as, but not limited to; the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Expert Field Medical Badge, and the Expert Soldier Badge Competitions,” said Jenczelewski. “One of the staples of the BWC is the stress shoot event, which is designed to measure the competitor's overall combat readiness. The intent is to test the competitor's knowledge, technical and tactical skill, as well as their physical and mental toughness all in one event.”

The U.S. Army recently announced its strategy for a once in a generation transformation into the Army of 2030. This service-wide priority effort now influences the U.S. Army’s approach to everything, from leadership to training events like the BWC.

“The BWC aligns with the priorities set forth in the 'Army of 2030' strategy by providing a platform for how junior leaders identify their own strengths and weaknesses, which in turn allows for organizations' most valuable assets, their people, to thrive,” said Jenczelewski. “The event simulates contested environments at a lower cost and with reduced risk, while placing the competitor in realistic scenarios where they can prevail against threats. This in turn enhances the preparedness from the smallest unit to the largest formations once they return from the competition.”

To aid in this transformation, the U.S. Army lives by a code of conduct called the Warrior Ethos. This way of life defines the service and what is expected from each and every Soldier as they carry out their duties.

“The Warrior Ethos at its core is perseverance in the face of adversity,” said 1st Sgt. Joe Mohmod 1-114th Infantry Regiment first sergeant. “To me, that means prioritizing the task at hand, while doing everything it takes for mission success no matter how difficult. With the BWC, even though a competitor may not be strong at all of the tasks, they persevere and try their best to succeed which embodies the Warrior Ethos.”

Two overall winners emerge from the event each year, one for the Junior Enlisted and one for the Noncommissioned Officer competitors. From there the winners advance to represent the NJARNG in the regional competition set to occur May 15 -19, 2023 in Maine.

Each competitor also receives an award of recognition for being a part of the competition regardless of placement.

“In the future, if one of my Soldiers was hesitant to throw their hat into the ring and execute the competition, I would tell them the fact that they have been selected or considered for this competition already means that they are up for the challenge,” said Mohmod. “No training in life will ever be able to replace this event or the knowledge gained from it. When the competition is over, regardless of the outcome, they will be better Soldiers for having endured each relentless event, regardless of how they finished. It’s the chances you take in life that shape who you are, what you become, and eventually where you end up.”