Army Launches Best Squad Competition

Army Launches Best Squad Competition

Army squad
Photo by: U.S. Army/Patrick A. Albright

In its ongoing effort to build strong, cohesive teams, the Army is launching a new competition focused on groups of soldiers.

The Army’s inaugural Best Squad Competition will kick off in September, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said during the recent Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“For over two years I’ve talked about the importance of building a cohesive team that is highly trained, disciplined and fit,” Grinston said, according to the Army. “Now it’s time to measure ourselves against that standard.”

Despite its name, the Best Squad Competition will not consist only of the traditional infantry squad, for example, Grinston said.

For the competition, a squad will consist of five soldiers, according to the Army.

Each team will have a squad leader, who will be either a sergeant first class or staff sergeant, a team leader who is a sergeant or corporal, and three squad members who are specialists and below.

Specific details on how the squads will be assembled have not been finalized, according to the Army. An execution order is expected soon.

“We don’t want divisions assembling super squads,” Grinston said, according to the Army. “But we have to figure out how that looks because each competing command is operated a little differently.”

As an example, Grinston said, he would be open to allowing soldiers from across a garrison headquarters and headquarters battalion to compete together even if they aren’t in an organic squad.

“I want units to really think about what makes up a squad,” Grinston said, according to the Army.

He added that his “This is My Squad” initiative “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.”

Grinston said his goal is to assess squads on their technical and tactical proficiency, as well as their cohesiveness and ability to work as a team.

“By the time the squads get to the Army level, we know they’re tactically sound,” Grinston said, according to the Army. “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.”

Army leaders have repeatedly emphasized the importance of strong, cohesive teams as a way to take care of soldiers and eliminate many of the bad behaviors plaguing the force, including sexual harassment and assault.

These small teams also form the foundation of a ready force, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has said.

“The foundation of readiness is the individual soldier and the small unit—from the team and squad levels,” he said, according to the Army. “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.”

While the Army-level competition isn’t scheduled to begin until late September, units will begin assembling squads now so they can earn the right to represent their assigned commands, according to the Army.

In all, 12 teams, including one each from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, will compete.

The winning squad will be announced during the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in October, Grinston said. 

A Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year, typically named at the conclusion of the annual Best Warrior Competition, also will be selected from the 60 competitors, Grinston said, but they will not necessarily be members of the winning squad.