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The best of the best compete for Maryland Army National Guard’s Best Warrior

Posted at 7:16 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-12 15:47:28-05

GLEN ARM, Md. — A gunner in a Humvee spots an armed man and has to make the split-second decision whether to return fire.

On this day, the rounds fired are only blanks and the so-called enemy poses no threat.

It’s all part of the Maryland Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition at the H. Steven Blum Military Reservation in Baltimore County.

However, with a pair of Estonian soldiers also taking part, for them, the potential for real conflict is real with Russia invading Ukraine and no certainty where its expansionist designs may take it next.

“We’re taking lessons learned every day, and we’re… not to say adjusting our plans, because they’re not really anything surprising to us. We’re adjusting minor details, but the whole thing is getting real now,” said Sgt. Major Allan Saarma of the Estonian Defense Force.

The four-day competition involves a dozen participants and ultimately, a soldier and a non-commissioned officer will move on to the regional, and hopefully, the national-level competition.

Whether it is taking automatic weapons apart and putting them back together, identifying military vehicles, friend or foe, or engaging in life-like combat, each soldier vies for the title of best warrior, whether it’s a Marylander or one of our NATO allies in the hope that it will serve all of them well when they need it the most.

“I compare it to the Army Navy Game,” said Command Sgt. Major James Nugent of the Maryland Army National Guard, “Each of these competitors wants to win. That’s why they’re here. They are winners. They want to win. They want to beat their fellow competitors, but none of them want to see their fellow competitors fail, because we are soldiers and we may find each other depending on one another in some foreign land and some point in time, sir.”