Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink, U.S. Army Reserve Command, has been named the Army’s noncommissioned officer of the year, while Spc. Jared R. Tansley, U.S. Army Europe, has been named Soldier of the year.
The announcement was made at the 2015 Best Warrior Competition Awards Ceremony at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army, Oct. 12, in Washington, D.C.
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“It’s a great day to be a Soldier,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “Thank God we have Soldiers like the ones that are going to be recognized here today.”
Dailey said he was referring to all 24 NCOs and Soldiers from 13 commands across the Army, who started competing a week ago at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, for the titles of best NCO and best Soldier.
During the event, the Soldiers were always being watched and graded and the competition was stiff, Dailey said. Their final event was participation in the Army Ten-Miler, Aug. 11, at the Pentagon. On average, the Soldiers ran about a 6:30 mile run, said Dailey, who joined them on the race.
Following the awards ceremony, Fink and Tansley both said the entire competition was exhausting they’re glad it’s over and they are pleased to have been selected as the top competitors.
Fink wears the Ranger Tab and Tansley is an infantryman, so they are no strangers to arduous training. Their backgrounds and previous training as Soldiers made their assessment of the competition that much more significant.
Both said the most difficult portion of the competition was the rucksack march. Fink noted that because he’s shorter than most, he had to run to keep up with the pack and finish with a good time.
Fink said being an NCO is an awesome experience because he can be an inspiration to his troops. This competition will further help his being an inspiration to his troops, he added.
Fink is a Special Operations combat medic platoon sergeant with the 409th Area Support Medical Company. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan while on active duty. Later, he joined the Reserve. He hails from Cook, Minnesota, and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. He said he plans to make the Army a career.
The best part about winning the competition, Tansley said, “is that now I’m now an example within my unit and squadron for fellow Soldiers and someone my leaders can rely on.”
Tansley serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry. He’s been in the Army since April 2013 and said he plans to continue serving as long as he can. Tansley hails from Sycamore, Illinois.
PASS ON THE KNOWLEDGE
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the keynote speaker at the ceremony, said future operations will be more complex than any in the past, and it’s important for Best Warrior competitors and all Soldiers to keep in mind the lessons learned over the last 14 years of warfare and pass that knowledge on to the new generation of Soldiers coming in.
“Win in a Complex World,” is the foundation of how the Army thinks about future combat operations, Allyn said. It’s the thesis of the Army Operating Concept, designed to lead an intellectual change for the Army. “It acknowledges that our nation cannot predict who it will fight, where it will fight or with what coalition it will fight.”
Future operations in complex environments require the Army to develop small-unit leaders capable of decentralized operations, he continued. These are leaders who thrive in uncertainty, adapt in their environment and take prudent risks based on the commander’s intent.
This places high demands on every Soldier, down to the squad level, he said, meaning junior Soldiers and NCOs will be tasked with much greater responsibility than ever before.
Allyn then provided real-world examples of how young Soldiers are taking this on, such as providing valuable feedback of new systems at the Network Integration Evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas; and, operating in remote areas of Africa thousands of miles from their headquarters.
Lastly, he said: “Soldiers and NCOs make our Army the greatest land force in history. The competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to our Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos and represent the force of our future.”
- Runner-up NCO of the Year: Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Simpson, U.S. Army Military District of Washington
- Third place NCO of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Elijah Howlett, USAREUR
- Runner-up Soldier of the Year: Spc. Cruser R. Barnew, U.S. Army National Guard
- Third place Soldier of the Year: Spc. Emanuel L. Moore, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Master Sgt. Michelle Johnson, the SMA’s public affairs officer, said that during this year’s Best Warrior competition, three new awards were created that highlight both physical fitness and weapons qualification.
TOP GUN AWARDS
One Soldier and one NCO stood out above the rest in the weapons qualification event, Johnson said. Their task was to run to barricades and engage as many pop-up targets as possible in the shortest amount of time, using three types of weapons.
The NCO “Top Gun” was Howlett. The Soldier Top Gun was Spc. Shane Sital, U.S. Army Installation Management Command.
The Army Physical Fitness Test was modified to an extended point scale to gauge the toughest NCO and Soldier, Johnson said. With a score of 316, this year’s “Iron NCO” was Sgt. Michael Hooks, U.S. Army Pacific Command. With a score of 321, the Iron Soldier was Tansley.
ROAD MARCH AWARDS
Before beginning a 12-mile road march with a 35-pound pack for Soldiers and a 45-pound pack for NCOs, the troops were “shown several items,” Johnson said. Their task was to be on the lookout for those items as they marched. “So, not only did they have to be fast, they had to be agile and alert.”
With a time of 2 hours and 13 minutes, the “NCO Road March” champion was Sgt. Robert Cunningham, ARNG. And, with a time of 2 hours and 11 minutes, the Soldier Road March champion was Moore.