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Sergeant Major of the Army Announces Inaugural Best Squad Competition

The Army’s Best Warrior Competition is getting an upgrade.

FORT BENNING, Ga. — During his remarks Tuesday to the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston announced that groups of Soldiers will compete together in the inaugural U.S. Army Best Squad Competition.

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

For purposes of the competition, a “squad” will consist of five Soldiers:

One Squad Leader – Sergeant First Class or Staff Sergeant

One Team Leader – Sergeant or Corporal

Three Squad Members – Specialist and below

The inclusion of a sergeant first class was authorized to account for staff sections not typically led by a staff sergeant.

Specific details on how the squads will be assembled have not been finalized; the Army execution order is expected to be published before the end of the month. Grinston said his intent is for the teams to come from the lowest echelons of command possible.

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

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

“I want units to really think about what makes up a squad,” Grinston explained. “’This is My Squad’ 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.”

As the Army continues to modernize and train for large-scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville said that begins with the squad.

“The foundation of readiness is the individual Soldier and the small unit – from the team and squad levels,” he said. “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.”

Grinston said his goal is to assess squads not just on their technical and tactical proficiency, but also on their cohesiveness and ability to work together as a team.

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

The Army-level competition doesn’t begin until the end of September, but units will begin assembling and assessing squads now to earn the right to represent their assigned competing commands. In all, 12 teams, including one each from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, will compete.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Grinston also plans to select the NCO and Soldier of the Year from among the 60 competitors, but said they won’t necessarily come from the winning squad.

They, along with the best squad, will be announced at the AUSA Annual Convention in October.

By SFC Will Reinier

9 Responses to “Sergeant Major of the Army Announces Inaugural Best Squad Competition”

  1. B says:

    What does this do that Best Ranger, unit best soldier, EIB, etc., don’t?

    • PB says:

      Within maneuver BCTs, traditional Best Squad competitions can really help shape BCT and BN decisions on which Battalions and Companies will be the main effort for training exercises or deployments. Also, competition breeds excellence, and since the infantry squad is a key unit structure, it really helps shape espirit de corps and overall unit capability.

      However, since they’ve neutered the squad to 5 people for this… I’m just baffled. Maybe call it “Best Fire Team” or something, but allow SFC and SSG to partake if they want to accommodate support MOSes.

      • B says:

        Taking time away from actual field training for events (looking at you EIB) is a net negative in terms of unit proficiency. METL tasks aren’t being worked on if you are preparing for a competition.

        They are going to have to do unit competitions, spiraling into travel costs, more time away from units, etc. and it’s not even a true squad or fire team. How does that make a maneuver unit better at their job?

        • PB says:

          Because the best squad competitions have traditionally been designed to specifically test a squad’s proficiency at METL tasks. As I said, competition breeds excellence. Keep in mind that unlike EIB where you just need to check a box at each station, the best squad competitions rank the contestants. Doing just good enough to reach a certain standard isn’t good enough. You have to do better than the other squads.

          No, there will not be much benefit for the “squads” that have to travel for this, but everything trickles down. For every squad that is traveling, there are numerous other squads getting better by training for the event.

          Now, with non-maneuver MOSes, there is less benefit with best squad competitions. But I personally don’t think it’s bad for support MOSes to be proficient in squad attack, clearing trenches, or improve in general physical fitness.

  2. muddd says:

    Gee, I don’t know… poke fun at trhe Army of One idiocy meme

    Foster a culture of 5 person squad competencies and teamwork. Give commands a venue and framework to emphazise the importance of across the board competencies in the smallest fighting unit..

  3. Seamus says:

    I am all for squad competitions but is a cherry picked group of soldiers doing a bunch of PT events really how we motivate a generation of soft and squishy new soldiers? Does it really move the needle across the army in terms of fitness, lethality or readiness? I don’t think it will.

    Meanwhile AR 350-1 hasn’t been updated in how long? Besides a one off event like this, Commanders and 1SGs are relying on a GWOT era AR 350-1 requirements to prep for a near-peer fight? What do they prioritize and how do they train those tasks better? Maybe the SMA should focus on extended Basic Training and giving DS more time for the soldierization process and increase the rigor of BCT and AIT across the board. How have we changed IET toward LSCO? Last I checked he owns TRADOCC so where are the OBVIOUS changes that we need? Seems his and his organizations efforts could be better utilized on other wholistic endeavors.

  4. Gear Guy says:

    How is this just now becoming a thing? The Marine Corps has had the Super Squad Competition for decades.

    • PB says:

      In the Army, best squad competitions have been a thing for a long time. Unlike this proposed competition, they were actually held with actual infantry squads within a Battalion or Brigade competing against each other. They were local/unit competitions, unlike this proposed one.

  5. BeenThere says:

    “We don’t want divisions assembling super squads.” Of course they won’t. They’ll probably just pick the first five guys in the chow line and go with that. And a five-man squad. WTF. What absolute total nonsense.