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Two of Fort Benning's best will be on display next week as Spc. Seth Biehl and Sgt. 1st Class Michael McQuality head to Fort Eustis, Virginia, for the TRADOC Soldier and NCO of the Year competitions.
Biehl, the Maneuver Center of Excellence Soldier of the Year, and McQuality, the MCoE NCO of the Year, earned the right to compete at Fort Eustis after winning the MCoE competition, which was held June 9-12 and saw competitors tested in areas that included physical fitness, rifle marksmanship, first aid and modern Army combatives. Competitors were also tested on their written communication skills and made an appearance before a board where they were judged on physical appearance, uniform standards and general military knowledge.
Since then, both have been preparing for the TRADOC competition.
"The (unit) has set (me) up pretty nice with a good training schedule," McQuality, a small group leader for the Henry A. Caro NCO Academy's Maneuver Senior Leaders Course. "We're working on essays, doing ranges and working on medical skills. The individual training as far as warrior tasks and general military knowledge is going quite slow, but we're working on it and trying to catch up. There's a lot of new Army doctrine publications and field manuals out there. We're just trying to get all of that new information and general knowledge."
Biehl, of D Company, 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade, said he has also been focusing heavily on his physical conditioning and weapons proficiency.
"Physically, we've been doing a lot of rucking and a lot of running trying to get ready for that PT test and just trying to stay in shape," he said. "We've worked on all the warrior tasks. I've been pulling weapons out of the weapons room and working with all our communication guys to go over the different radios that we might be tested on."
Both Biehl and McQuality said the TRADOC competition will be similar to the MCoE competition in structure, and both said the board appearance has been a major focus during training.
"Every board is the same, but at the same time you never know what to expect," Biehl said. "You just have to study for everything and hope they ask the questions you know how to answer correctly."
As the competition draws closer, Biehl and McQuality both said they have high expectations of themselves.
"Going into every single one of these events, I'm expecting to win," Biehl said. "I don't go into anything thinking I'm the underdog. I go in with an alpha male mentality, and that's how I expect to finish."
McQuality said his confidence stems from the support he has received from his commanders and the rest of the MCoE.
"The chain of command has been extremely supportive," he said. "They've given me time off to get things done and have relieved me of some of my duties to make sure that I've got time to prepare for this board. I feel quite comfortable and confident in my ability to do well and represent the MCoE in a professional manner. I expect to win."
The TRADOC competition is July 29-30 at Fort Eustis.