Soldiers from National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Calif., participated in the installation’s Best Warrior Competition and Best Squad Competition April 10-12, 2023.
Throughout the competition, Soldiers completed the Army Combat Fitness Test, warrior tasks and battle drills, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile foot march, an obstacle course, a range stress shoot, a written test, and a knowledge board.
At the end of the competition, 2nd Lt. Ethan Baker, a transportation officer with 1916th Support Battalion, 916th Support Brigade, won best officer, Sgt. Robert Navarro, a cavalry scout with Dragon Team, Operations Group, won best noncommissioned officer, and Spec. Lucas McEachran, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, won best Soldier, and a team from Operations Group won best squad.
Baker, a Chester, Va., native, joined the Army National Guard in 2017 and has been active duty for the last 10 months.
Participating in competitions that showcase Soldier skills are part of the reason Baker joined the Army, he said.
“I wanted to compete because I enjoy taking on the individual physical challenges in the Army,” Baker said. “While I’m still young and new to it, I want to get out there and experience it, so I think that drove a lot of my decision [to compete].”
McEachran previously competed in competitions at his unit, which motivated him to compete at the installation level, he said.
“I wanted to compete because I was given the opportunity with Soldier of the Month in January and Regimental Best Warrior last month and I realized I’m capable of doing more than I thought,” the Clovis, Calif., native said.
His experience with competitions at the regimental level helped him, especially with the knowledge board, McEachran said.
“I really messed up and instead of letting it get to me, I let it shape me,” McEachran said. “I took the criticism I was given, so I could go to the regiment level and excel and then come to NTC and continue on.”
Navarro said he wanted to compete to set the example for his Soldiers.
Navarro’s team also won Best Squad for the installation.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I had it in the bag,” Navarro, a Madera, California, native said about his win.
The competitors faced many challenges throughout the competition.
“The most challenging part for me was coming out of the obstacle course because we went through the 12-mile ruck straight into the obstacle course essentially and then the heat of the day and the fact that we’d only slept for a few hours the night prior for the night land [navigation], that was the hardest part to me,” Baker said.
McEachran said going through the events with the other Soldiers was one of the best parts of the competition.
“I know were competing against each other, but … we’re more than just competitors and we’re more than just Soldiers at the end of the day,” McEachran said.
Following the competition, the installation command sergeant major announced the winners at an award ceremony on April 12.
Navarro said he was ecstatic to win.
“I didn’t think I was going to win,” Navarro said. “It felt great, I felt like I accomplished something.”
The competitors will represent the installation at the Best Squad Competition at Fort Campbell, Ky.