Chilean service members fought alongside their peers from the United States and the Czech Republic in the fifth 2017 Best Warrior competition (BWC) held from March 2nd to 4th at Camp Swift, Texas. The annual competition tests their abilities, strength, and resistance on the battlefield.
BWC is held by the Texas National Guard to select the best warriors by testing their fighting skills, resistance, intelligence, physical fitness, and military knowledge. Taking part in the competition were 27 service members from the Texas National Guard and Texas Air National Guard, two service members from the Chilean Army, two from the Chilean Navy, and two from the Czech Army. The competition was divided into two categories – one for officers and the other for noncommissioned officers from various units of the participating services.
“It’s worth the effort because it offers something more than a chance for service members to compete for a title,” said Sergeant Major Mark Weedon, the main advisor to the Texas National Guard, according to a press release from that service. “The true value of training comes from the learning that happens when working with other nations in real world operations,” he added.
This was the second consecutive year that the Chilean Army was invited to the competition. The exchange is part of a cooperation agreement between Chile and the Texas National Guard under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, which allows various military units from the United States and different countries to train together and share knowledge and experiences. The Chilean delegation was chosen in a national competition.
“This competition was tough and demanding. The main challenge was facing off against service members from other countries, comparing our skills and capabilities under the same conditions and stresses,” said Corporal Second Class Juan Pablo Moncada, from the Chilean Army’s 14th Motorized Infantry Battalion “Aysen”, who took part in the competition.
The three-day competition included 16 timed and marked trials, such as mock urban combat, physical fitness, weapons handling, marching with military gear, nighttime overland orienteering, telecommunications, written tests, personal interviews by a military commission, and battle exercises that are relevant to the current military operations environment.
“The nighttime orienteering trial allowed me to put my training to the test. In our country [Chile], the terrain is quite different as far as the vegetation and orientation,” said Corporal 2nd Class Moncada, who came in eighth place in the noncommissioned officer category. “That trial was very hard. I will carry this experience with me through the rest of my career,” he assured.
Corporal First Class Camilo Riffo, from the Chilean Army’s 16th Infantry Regiment “Talca”, took second place in the noncommissioned officer category and won the marching trial, which was over 12 miles.
“For the Chilean Army, this was hugely positive, despite our scant years of participation. The main impact is the motivational aspect of the personnel,” said Colonel Alejandro Kluck Valenzuela, head of Command Operations Efficiency Department 2 at the Land Operations Command of the Chilean Army.
Chilean service members have shared these kinds of experiences through other military events in recent years. For instance, Chile participates in PANAMAX, a multinational exercise sponsored by U.S. Southern Command, which is a maritime training for protecting the Panama Canal and the Central American region.
According to Col. Kluck, this invitation to participate is an “endorsement for the way training is being conducted in the Chilean Army. In addition to marking our presence in high-level competitions and demonstrating our own abilities to the other participating armies, we are brought closer in our interpersonal relations by being subjected to the same extreme demands.”
For Chile, it is, “an honor to be considered to take part in such an important competition. We hope to be able to compete every time we have the option to do so,” Col. Kluck said. “This shows the seriousness and the professionalism with which all of the members of this institution work, day in and day out, to be an Army that is committed to its nation and that is decisively advancing towards an increasingly brighter future,” he concluded.