By Steven Stover
Public Affairs Officer
780th Military Intelligence Brigade
Representing not only his command and its Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Humberto Gutierrez was equally proud to showcase the prowess and professional expertise of cyber operations Soldiers who directly support the point of the spear.
Gutierrez, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, and Spc. Johnny Long, Detachment Hawaii, 782nd MI Battalion, 780th MI Brigade, will represent their region in the 2017 U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s Best Warrior Competition in July.
Gutierrez and Long finished on top as the best noncommissioned officer and Soldier, respectively, during the North Region competition held May 8-12 at Fort Meade and Gunpowder Military Reservation in Glen Arm, Md.
The top NCO and Soldier competitors completed five days of rigorous testing in numerous events. Competitors included members of the 1st Information Operations Command (Land), 704th MI, 780th MI, 902nd MI Group, Army Field Support Center, Army Operations Group, and Headquarters & Headquarters Company, INSCOM.
Testing included an Army physical fitness test, a panel board, a written exam and essay, M9 pistol and M4 rifle weapons qualification, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile road march with a stress shoot exercise, Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, an obstacle course, and a functional fitness event.
Although only one Soldier and NCO advanced to the next level of the competition, Sgt. Major Craig Hood, the operations sergeant major for the 704th MI, said all the competitors and their sponsors are winners.
“Ultimately, there is going to be one Soldier and one noncommissioned officer selected to move forward,” Hood said. “But at the end of the day they will all be winners because this event tested them, physically and mentally, and these skill sets will translate onto the battlefield.”
Long, the INSCOM North Region’s Best Soldier, was ecstatic when he won, but also felt an obligation to the other competitors and their commands.
“All the competitors came here with the same mindset, with the same goal in mind,” Long said. “We went all out — but for fun — pushing each other.
“It’s been a crucible experience because of how hard we pushed each other … and now I have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be an interesting road.”
Gutierrez, the INSCOM North Region’s Best NCO, said the level of competition helped everyone push harder.
He was also proud to represent the Army’s newest military occupational specialty, 17C. The cyber operations specialist MOS was only recently established in October 2015.
“Being chosen as the NCO Best Warrior means a lot to me and my unit,” Gutierrez said. “To see a cyber Soldier going up to the INSCOM level is special.”
For the winning competitors, their journey isn’t over yet. Both realize there is more fitness training and studying to do in preparation for the next level of competition.
However, until then, their command is proud of them.
“Staff Sergeant Gutierrez and Specialist Long have distinguished themselves not only as the best of the best in the 780th MI Brigade, but also across four other major subordinate commands in INSCOM,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Sheldon Chandler, the senior enlisted leader for the 780th MI.
“I am extremely proud of their level of professionalism, dedication to excellence, and the warrior spirit they displayed during such a mentally challenging and physically grueling competition.”