FORT BENNING, Ga. — During his remarks Feb. 15, to the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston announced that groups of Soldiers will compete together in the inaugural U.S. Army Best Squad Competition.
“For over two years I’ve talked about the importance of building a cohesive team that is highly trained, disciplined, and fit,” Grinston said. “Now it’s time to measure ourselves against that standard.”
For purposes of the competition, a “squad” will consist of five Soldiers:
One Squad Leader – sergeant first class or staff sergeant
One Team Leader – sergeant or corporal
Three Squad Members – specialist and below
The inclusion of a sergeant first class was authorized to account for staff sections not typically led by a staff sergeant.
Specific details on how the squads will be assembled have not been finalized; the Army execution order is expected to be published before the end of the month. Grinston said his intent is for the teams to come from the lowest echelons of command possible.
“We don’t want divisions assembling super-squads,” he said. “But we have to figure out how that looks because each competing command is operated a little differently.”
For example, he said he would be open to allowing Soldiers from across a garrison headquarters and headquarters battalion to compete together even if those Soldiers aren’t in an organic squad.
“I want units to really think about what makes up a squad,” Grinston explained. “‘This is My Squad’ isn’t just about the traditional infantry squad. It’s about those small groups of Soldiers who really know and care about each other and hold each other to a high standard of proficiency, discipline, and fitness.”
As the Army continues to modernize and train for large-scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville said that begins with the squad.
“The foundation of readiness is the individual Soldier and the small unit – from the team and squad levels,” he said. “The best units in the world ensure their individuals and small units are masters of their craft. If you don’t have a solid foundation of readiness, you won’t have agility. You’ll never be able to execute graduate-level operations.”
Grinston said his goal is to assess squads not just on their technical and tactical proficiency, but also on their cohesiveness and ability to work together as a team.
“By the time the squads get to the Army level, we know they’re tactically sound,” Grinston said. “So we’re going to challenge them in ways maybe they haven’t been challenged before, see how they respond when they’re stressed in other ways.”
The Army-level competition doesn’t begin until the end of September, but units will begin assembling and assessing squads now to earn the right to represent their assigned competing commands. In all, 12 teams, including one each from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, will compete.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Grinston also plans to select the NCO and Soldier of the Year from among the 60 competitors, but said they won’t necessarily come from the winning squad.
They, along with the best squad, will be announced at the AUSA Annual Convention in October.