Installation Management Command-Europe announced the winners of this year’s Best Warrior Competition during a ceremony in Ansbach, Germany, March 23.
Staff Sgt. Brendan Hagens of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden earned the title of Best Warrior in the noncommissioned officer category. Pfc. Douglas Lanning of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux earned the title of Best Warrior in the junior-enlisted Soldier category.
This is Hagens’ second time winning this event, and last year he went on to win at the IMCOM level.
The group of competitors consisted of six junior-enlisted Soldiers and seven noncommissioned officers from the IMCOM-Europe footprint: USAGs Ansbach, Bavaria, Benelux, Italy, Rheinland-Pfalz, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden.
The competition, which USAG Ansbach hosted March 20-22, put its candidates through a series of physical and mental challenges including marksmanship; physical fitness; day and night land navigation; tactical communications; medical aid; board appearances and written exams; weapons skills; obstacle course negotiation; a 12-mile foot march; and a battery of other Soldier tasks and drills.
Michael Formica, IMCOM-Europe director, spoke during the ceremony and praised both the candidates and winners for their hard work.
“I am honored to be with these 13 outstanding competitors who represent our ready and resilient formations,” said Formica. “There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Soldiers are not in the Army. They are the Army.’”
Formica said the Army value of selfless-service is evident in the group of competitors, each of whom accepted the invitation to compete without hesitation.
“These troops representing your garrisons certainly understand what selfless service means,” said Formica. “They believe ‘good enough’ is never enough. They strive not just to excel, but to also inspire. They know that leading by example is the right thing to do.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada, IMCOM-Europe command sergeant major, also spoke during the ceremony.
“Today, as we honor our top Soldier and noncommissioned officer, we must also remember the truly unique mission these troops perform every day, 24/7,” said Canada. “As part of the team known as ‘The Army’s Home,’ they support service members, families and civilians who call our overseas garrisons ‘home.’ They also protect our communities. That role takes on even more meaning when their fellow sisters and brothers-in-arm deploy downrange.”
Canada emphasized the need for all Soldiers to continually sharpen their skills and maintain their sense of warrior proficiency so they can fight the nation’s wars if called upon.
“It is that spirit of the IMCOM Soldier that brings us here today,” said Canada. “As we pay tribute to their professional soldiering skills and knowledge, let us also recognize their calling as community defenders and battlefield warriors.
Canada added that although only two competitors earned the title of Best Warrior, each competitor “carries a winner’s character.”
“They all have been singled out for their commitment, professionalism and service,” he said. “They all can claim to be among the best in our ranks. They all display Strong Europe.”
Hagens and Lanning both serve as military police Soldiers at their respective garrisons.
“It was definitely challenging,” said Hagens, who encourages other Soldiers to participate in Best Warrior Competition events. “The competition itself is, fundamentally, doing the Skill Level 1 Warrior Tasks. Everyone should be proficient in this. They should want to do this. It’s challenging, and it will really test your skills and show you where you’re at.”
“It feels amazing,” Lanning said of his win. “It’s been my goal since before I got promoted to PFC. So, almost a year now, and it’s always been something that I really wanted to do.”
• Spc. Jorge Brackett, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz
• Spc. Charles King, USAG Italy
• Pfc. Douglas Lanning, USAG Benelux
• Pfc. Anthony M. Spencer-Tafoya, USAG Bavaria
• Pvt. John Roberts, USAG Ansbach
• Pvt. Joshua Young, USAG Stuttgart
• Staff Sgt. Jay Cortner, USAG Stuttgart
• Staff Sgt. Brendan Hagens, USAG Wiesbaden
• Staff Sgt. Ryan A. Theobald, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz
• Sgt. Bryant Alexander, USAG Italy
• Sgt. Darion Oliver, USAG Benelux
• Sgt. Michael Rhine, USAG Bavaria
• Sgt. Seth T. Wilson, USAG Ansbach
Hagens and Lanning are slated to represent IMCOM-Europe at the IMCOM Best Warrior Competition, scheduled for May at Camp Bullis, Texas.