201001-A-LS252-049.jpegStaff Sgt. Wayne Hartman completes the weapons station during the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills portion of the All-Army Best Warrior Competition, Oct. 1. (Photo by Josie Carlson)

By Josie Carlson                                                                                                                                                                                                 Fort Jackson Leader

After beating out competitors to be the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year at battalion, brigade, Fort Jackson and finally at Training and Doctrine Command, Staff Sgt. Wayne Hartman is now competing in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition – the culminating test for NCOs and Soldiers of the Year from 11 Army commands across the globe.

The event has been virtual due to COVID-19 precautions, but Hartman is still up against tough competition to get the best scores in a 12-mile ruck march, weapons qualification, the ACFT, a written exam and essays, Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, and finally a formal board scheduled for Oct. 9.

Hartman said the virtual experience was “extremely challenging … you have to compete against yourself because you have no metric as to how everyone else is doing. With the TRADOC competition we never even saw anybody else’s scores. Even after the fact … I don’t know how everyone else did. I know I won but I don’t know what everyone else’s ACFT scores were or what their ruck scores were.”

Hartman joined the Army in October 2012, and has been stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for most of his career before being selected to be a drill sergeant. He has been a drill sergeant with Company B, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment about a year.

Hartman, who is married with three children, ages 10, five and two, said he likes to pass on his love of fitness to his kids. “My 5-year-old daughter runs a 10:18 one mile,” Hartman said jokingly. “My daughter runs faster than about a third of my trainees” Hartman joked.

The self-avowed perfectionist attitude helped him work his way through every level of the competition. He said he has pushed himself during these virtual events in a way he wouldn’t have otherwise.

“In an in-person competition you can kind of gage each competitor and what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “Like for the ruck, I can see if somebody is passing me…if I were in the lead by a lot there would be no reason for me to push myself and try and break myself off. But with the virtual competition there is no way to know so you just have to run your game and run your competition … you’re competing against yourself, almost.” Hartman said.

On Oct. 9, Hartman will demonstrate his military bearing and knowledge of the Army in front of a board comprised of command sergeants major from across the Army.

He along with all the competitors will be assessed by their breadth and depth of knowledge on multiple areas including military leadership and counseling, current events, Army history, tactical communications, survival, battle-focused training, weapons, and land navigation.

After this final event, virtual or not, Hartman will know how his skills stack up against the best in the Army.