BASTROP, Texas – The Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition brought together the Texas Army and Air National Guard and Chilean and Czech Armed Forces to challenge their tactical and technical abilities and share knowledge, skills and cultures.
The friendly competition at Camp Swift in Bastrop March 27-April 1 tested participants on basic military skills such as marksmanship, land navigation and fitness.
The TMD invited its partners in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, which pairs the National Guard in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories with partner nations to increase regional security and advance U.S. interests.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Martinez, International Affairs Division, Texas Military Department, accompanied Chilean and Czech service members competing in the BWC to help them integrate with Texas Army and Air National Guard participants.
“I think it’s all about learning about the cultures and exchanging ideas,” said Martinez. “It’s important that they’re here talking to other Airmen, Soldiers and NCOs, and that they get that general understanding of what we do and our culture as a military.”
This exchange was a valuable learning experience for all involved, enabling competitors to build on each other’s strengths and adapt their capabilities accordingly.
“I think this competition helps us to continue to be a joint operating force and a force multiplier,” said Senior Airman Jake Schlang, 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. “We have learned a lot of things from the Chilean forces that we may not have known, and the Czech soldiers over in Europe are doing a lot more near-peer style exercises as well. Getting their knowledge and insight on things is important for our forces to continue to adapt our capabilities.”
Sgt. 1st Class Cristobal Inostroza, Chilean navy, participated in the BWC for the third consecutive year, sharing his knowledge and mentoring fellow competitors.
“It’s a hard competition, and I’ve been able to learn from all the mistakes I made in the past and have been improving my skills,” said Inostroza. “I’ve been able to help out the other new participants so they can learn what I’ve learned.”
Chilean and Czech forces have competed in the Texas BWC for several years, strengthening the partnership with Texas Guard members.
“I’m looking forward to sharing our skills and experience, not only military skills but more general skills as well,” said Warrant Officer Rostislav Panáček, Czech army. “I’ve picked up some knowledge from members who were here previously, and I’ve learned even more from being here this year.”
The SPP facilitates mutually beneficial alliances and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level, producing enduring relationships that improve interoperability, enhance U.S. access and influence, and increase readiness.
This year, the SPP celebrates its 30th anniversary and now includes 88 partnerships with 100 nations.
“I would like to say thank you to the Texas Military Department for inviting us, and we really appreciate it,” said Panáček. “It is a great opportunity for all of us to be here and to be a part of this competition.”