Story and photos by Steve Stover, Public Affairs Officer, 780th MI Brigade (Cyber)
FORT BELVOIR, Va. — U.S. Army Cyber Command named its best warriors of 2017 on Aug. 25, after a week of intense competition here.
Spc. Johnny Long of Mesquite, Texas — assigned to Detachment Hawaii, 782nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 780th MI Brigade, Intelligence & Security Command — earned Best Warrior Soldier of the Year honors.
Sgt. Kevin Beuse of Colorado Springs, Colo., — assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 470th MI Brigade, INSCOM — was named Best Warrior NCO of the Year.
Soldiers from multiple commands actually started on the road to the ARCYBER title in early spring. It has been a grueling climb to the top with each Soldier tackling at least four other Best Warrior Competitions to reach the ARCYBER level.
And there’s still one more rung to go for Long and Beuse — representing ARCYBER at the Army-level competition in October.
Organizers of the ARCYBER event said the level of competition has never been higher, nor the physical and mental events more challenging.
The Army’s Soldier and NCO of the Year selection process became tougher following 9/11, when the Sergeant Major of the Army changed the process to more realistically prove the “Total Soldier” concept.
Long has a bachelor’s degree in physics and joined the Army in 2013 after teaching high school because he wanted to serve. He is a Korean linguist who aspires join a SOT-A (Special Operations Team-Alpha), which is a signals intelligence-electronic warfare element of Army Special Forces.
For Long, the BWC has been a series of opportunities, and he’s had a lot of fun.
“I know that parts of it have been rougher than I expected, parts that were more fun than I expected,” he said. “You never know exactly what to expect at each level. But there have also been a lot of opportunities for experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.”
Long said those opportunities included hands-on experience with weapons that he hadn’t handled since basic training; learning Army doctrine; and “definitely a lot of combat lifesaver practice.”
He’s looking forward to facing a selection board led by the Sergeant Major of the Army when he competes in the October event.
Beuse credits his mentor, Sgt. Stephen Pritchard, for getting him to this point in the competition. He also gives equal credit to his wife, who lives in Honduras, and who he says has always believed in him and knew he would win.
Alongside his preparation for the competition, which began in February, Beuse has been working to bring his wife to the U.S.
He has a tough choice to make about the Army competition, too.
“I also have a decision to make between SLC [Army Senior Leader Course] and the DA [Department of the Army)]competition, so there’s a lot of things going on in my head,” Beuse said.
“However, representing my command and going to the DA level is a once-in-the-lifetime opportunity.”
At the ceremony naming the winners, Command Sgt. Maj. William Bruns, the ARCYBER command sergeant major, said he’s very impressed with the calibre and character of this year’s competitors.
“I think back to when I competed in boards; we were very knowledgeable, but the knowledge of the Soldiers today is high, the bar is very high,” Bruns said.
“The future of the NCO Corps is in good hands. These Soldiers are really, really exceptional. I think we’re going to do really well [at the next level of competition].”