BASTROP, Texas —Soldiers and Airmen from the Texas Military Department competed alongside service members from partner nations in the Best Warrior Competition March 2 – 4 at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas.
Twenty-seven members of the Texas Army National Guard and Air National Guard joined with service members from Chile and the Czech Republic to compete in a series of tactical exercises and soldiering tasks in a competition intended to foster joint-force and multinational camaraderie.
Chile and the Czech Republic are both partners of the Texas military under the State Partnership Program, which has been building relationships for more than 20 years involving 79 nations.
"It's a great opportunity to bring our Soldiers and Airmen together in competition," said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of the Texas. "While it's a friendly competition, it's also a very, very hard competition."
This year, the Best Warrior Competition consisted of various scored and timed events including; the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, a road march, night land navigation, writing an essay and appearing before a board that reviewed a competitor's personal appearance, military bearing and knowledge. The competition concluded with a mystery event, the details of which were not revealed until the event began.
Nichols said he appreciated the effect that this joint competition will have on future collaboration.
"That allows young Soldiers and Airmen to build relationships and gain experience that they will carry with them through their whole careers," Nichols said.
The experience the Texas Military Department forces gain from this joint competition will also translate to real-world benefits in emergency response and war-fighting capabilities, Nichols said.
"The reality is that if we as the Texas Military Department find ourselves responding to an emergency, we are able to work with other branches or our foreign allies and operate more effectively," Nichols said.
"With us having a joint Best Warrior Competition, we have our Guardsmen honing their skills to ensure mission readiness," said Command Sgt. Maj. John Sampa, command sergeant major of the 36th Infantry Division. "But they also get to do that in conjunction with other services and our international allies to see how they operate."
This will be the second time personnel from the military of Chile have joined Texan Soldiers and Airmen at the Best Warrior Competition, and the first for soldiers from the Czech Republic.
The intent of the joint competition is for the foreign partners to also gain experience working alongside members of the Texas Military Department, Sampa said.
"It's our hope that they will take the impression back to their countries and their units that Texas Soldiers are well-trained Soldiers, professional Soldiers and be willing to come back again to train with us and, if need be, fight alongside us." Sampa said.