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Best by Test challenges a soldier's basic skills

FT. SILL, Okla._This week, the 2nd battalion, 4th field artillery regiment at Ft. Sill held their field training in the semi-annual "Best by Test" competition.

The event is designed to make sure all of the soldiers participating are up to standard by proving their knowledge and aptitude in a variety of exercises. Tuesday's field exercise required all of the soldiers to wear their heavy gear that protect them from chemical gases to better simulate an active war zone.

"Gas, gas, gas!" That's the signal indicating there are chemical gases in the area and gear must be put on, and fast. It was just one more thing to see the progression of these soldiers and how they can apply their training. Major Keith Williams, Battalion Operations Officer, said the test was to find the best of the best, "We're looking for the number one launcher, the number one fire direction center, and the number one ammo crew."

Major Williams wants the soldiers to feel that the competition can be won by anyone participating but even if they don't take the number one spot, it's not the end of the world, "We want it to be a competition, because we want everybody to feel like they can win this thing.  Again it goes back to that plan, prepare, execute, and access.  After they're done here they are going to go back and access what they did wrong and make it right next time."

Staff Sergeant Joshua Jehl says it's not just a test but it's their job and that's enough motivation to perform their best, "As members of the military our job is to always make sure we are proficient to be able to do this job and combat scenarios if our nation calls on us.  So on a daily basis whether it is to prepare for the "Best by Test" or if it's just prepping to be proficient for our jobs we are constantly drilling soldiers to do this type of thing."

Jehl does admit when he went through it, there was some friendly competition involved but the biggest victory is the plaque you get when being named "The Best by Test."

The soldiers are scored by evaluators which involves timing and going by proper procedure. They're scored individually each day and they'll know their crew's total score at the end of the week. Tuesday's testing did not involve any live firing, but after the competition is over, next week, the battalion will add that to their list of tasks.

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