Air Defense troops prep for Best Warrior competition

Jillian Angeline reports.

FORT HOOD - It can be described as grueling, the Best Warrior competition's test skills every soldier should know.

The competition tests mental and physical endurance.

 The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Soldiers are preparing for the U.S. Forces Command Best Warrior Competition next week at Fort Bragg – running, studying battle drills, practicing weapons skills and working on hand to hand combat.

Specialist Ryan Gaetz usually works behind the computer on missile systems.

“It’s pretty isolated what I do,” Gaetz said.

He was runner up at the Air Defense Warrior Competition at Fort Bliss just a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m not used to being out in the open desert,” he said. “When we did land nav, we did open desert, six hours and everyone is trying to go out there and be competitive.”

Gaetz is now getting certified in hand to hand combat – one of many requirements for the upcoming U.S. Forces Command tournament.

“You want to close with the enemy, so you want to get in as close as you can,” he said. “You wanna gain a dominant body position, however you want to do that, there's lots of techniques to do that and then you want to end the fight.”

Gaetz will be joining Sergeant Kelton Sphaler – he won among all Air Defense soldiers.

“Having fun and competing against someone always pushes you and makes you do better for yourself,” Sphaler said.

Sphaler said he’d never thought he would be doing something like this.

“Very proud of myself and thank chain of command and family for support and pushing me through everything.”

Like Gaetz, Sphaler doesn’t usually get to practice his soldier skills as much as he used to. He has one of the hardest jobs on a Patriot missile team. 

"It's definitely going to help me in areas where I can train others better.  And if a soldier wants to go to FORSCOM or 32nd next year, it'll help me have a better understanding of basic warrior task battle drills."

 Competitors will not know what to expect day to day. Sergeant Sphaler said they will test their mental endurance by surprising the troops with different events.

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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