The day began in the early morning hours for 33 Soldiers competing for the top slot in the first, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade’s Best Lieutenant/Warrant Officer Competition on Fort Bragg Oct. 10 and 11.
They stood shoulder to shoulder, swinging their arms and jogging in place, trying to keep warm before beginning the physical fitness test that would either put them in solid standings or leave them trying to catch up.
For the next 48 hours, competitors would represent their companies and battalions, battling against one another
“When we start to challenge ourselves, against our peers, against other battalions, I think that’s healthy for an organization,” said Col. Xavier Brunson, the 525th BfSB Brigade commander, who suggested the competition.
“A lot of these (officers) want to prove themselves and they want to stand out from their peers … hopefully we’re letting them do that.”
Quick to stand out from the rest, 1st Lt. Jon Voss, a long range surveillance platoon leader for 1st Battalion, 38th Cavalry Squadron, 525th BfSB, was first to come across the 2-mile finish line in 12 minutes, 33 seconds.
“As an infantryman, this is what is expected of me. If I had to do what some of these (military intelligence) guys do, I would do very poorly, I’m sure,” said Voss.
Besides enjoying the competition against his peers, Voss also saw practical benefits for the competition.
“The opportunity to be able to talk to (other officers within the battalion), find out what they do, and who they are, has been good,” said Voss. “If we are going to work together to create an effective battlefield surveillance element, the better I know them and what their strengths and weaknesses are, the better I can serve what they need and vice versa.”
A platoon leader for Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, 2nd Lt. Emma Lehner, agreed that though the events were both challenging and fun, the ability to meet people she could possibly work with on future deployments, was a significant bonus.
“The Leaders Reaction Course is something we can’t train for, so it was the most fun for me,” said Lehner, talking about a memory test and problem-solving exercise. “But to be honest, I don’t know a lot of the other warrants and lieutenants in the other battalions. So, today gave me a chance to get out here and make connections throughout our brigade.”
Day two concluded with rifle marksmanship and point totals were unofficially posted with Voss’ name at the top.
Finishing first in both the physical fitness test and the 20k ruck march, along with performing consistently in the remaining challenges, helped push Voss to the top slot.
“This competition proved that there’s some really, really good people in this unit,” said Brunson, who would like to see a competition for enlisted Soldiers next.
Brunson will officially present the 525th BfSB Best Lieutenant/Warrant Officer trophy in a Nov. 2 ceremony.