Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s and our soldier’s professional organization.

I had the opportunity to engage and speak with many noncommissioned officers and soldiers who attended this year’s AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The feedback regarding the meeting’s setup, execution, variety of topics, focus on hot issues and, most importantly, professional development, was unanimously positive.

The attendance at the meeting topped 28,000 and our soldiers, the Department of Defense and Department of the Army civilians, family members and many friends of the Army were present and participated in our three-day event.

The planning for next year’s AUSA Annual Meeting has already begun and is scheduled for Oct. 3-5.

The highlight of the Annual Meeting was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey’s announcement of the Best Warrior Competition winners at the Sergeant Major of the Army Awards Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 12.

In front of a standing-ovation audience, Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink and Spc. Jared Tansley earned the titles of 2015 United States Army Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.

"It’s truly an honor to be the best NCO from among all those top competitors," said Fink, who competed against a dozen noncommissioned officers from all the major commands across the Army.

Fink serves as a combat medic platoon sergeant with the 409th Area Support Medical Company in the United States Army Reserve based in Madison, Wis.

Tansely serves as an infantryman with 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.

"The competition was difficult, but when you’re in the Army you learn to push through," said Tansley speaking about the most challenging events in the competition.

Tansely noted, "The hardest parts were the 12-mile rucksack march and the land navigation course."

Fink also identified the 12-mile rucksack march – carrying a 45-pound rucksack – as his most challenging event.

"I’m a little bit shorter and it’s tough for me to keep up with those taller boys," said Fink.

Adding, "But you just kind of grit your teeth and go on and do your best."

Dailey said at the luncheon, "Everything you do in the Army should reinforce what a soldier needs to be able to achieve on the battlefield in order to win, even in competition."

Reflecting on the competition, Dailey said, "Shooting, moving, communicating, and soldier skills – the intent is to find the best soldier."

The keynote speaker at the luncheon was the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Daniel B. Allyn.

Allyn reinforced the role of this year’s competition saying, "Soldiers and NCOs make our Army the greatest land force in history."

Adding, "This competition recognizes soldiers who demonstrate commitment to our Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos and represent the force of our future."

While the 2015 Army’s Best Warrior Competition came to a close at the Annual Meeting, the best sniper teams from around the world were converging on Fort Benning, Ga., for the 2015 United States Army International Sniper Competition.

A total of 37 sniper teams representing the Army, Army National Guard, United States Marine Corps, Columbus and Covington police departments, Atlanta FBI, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Denmark and Germany competed in the 14th annual event.

This year’s top sniper team was the international team from Ireland who performed consistently throughout the competition in 16 physically and mentally challenging events executed over a 96-hour period.

At the request of the Irish team, their names and photos were not published as part of the competition’s results.

All the teams were tested in long-range marksmanship, observation, target detection, stalking, reconnaissance and reporting, and the ability to move with stealth while concealed.

A team from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, earned second place, and the Marine Corps team from Camp Pendleton, California’s School of Infantry-West received third place honors.

Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Fox, an instructor team sergeant with the Sniper Course at Fort Benning said, "The competition started in 2001 and has grown over the years."

Adding, "The advancements each year come from after-action reviews following the competition between Fort Benning and the competitors."

Fox said, "It’s one of the few opportunities in these soldiers’ careers where they will be in one spot among such a wide diverse group of competitors," addressing the opportunities for each competitor to learn from each other over the four-day event.

Like the Best Warrior Competition, the Best Sniper Competition represents the "Super Bowl" of all sniper competitions where each competitor was able to demonstrate both physical and mental competencies.

Many of the teams talked about the camaraderie and competitiveness of the competition, but they also spoke highly about the best practices they learned from each other.

Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA and AUSA needs your membership support.

Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.

Keep America’s Army Strong!

Take a Stand!

Still Serving, Still Saluting!



Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret.

Director, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Programs