Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Veliz, a member of the Texas Air National Guard's 149th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, attempts to negotiate an obstacle during the Texas Military Forces' Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Veliz, a member of the Texas Air National Guard's 149th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, attempts to negotiate an obstacle during the Texas Military Forces' Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013. Veliz is one of the first Texas Air National Guard members to participate in the event as a competitor. (National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain / Released)

Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 CAMP SWIFT, Texas – The Texas Military Forces hosted the first joint-service “Best Warrior Competition” at the Texas  Army National Guard’s Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 8-10.

 The three-day long competition consisted of numerous events to challenge the Army and Air Guard participants –  physically and mentally, said Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin O’Gorman, with the Texas Air National Guard’s  headquarters at Camp Mabry, in Austin.

 In recent years, senior leaders have been laying the groundwork for this event to be a joint-service competition, but care  has been taken “to ensure it was going to be compatible, a level-playing field,” said O’Gorman.

 “For the past two years, we’ve had some of our command chiefs sit on the boards,” O’Gorman said. “This year, we’re  fully integrated. We ensured they are in the cadre, and we have eight [Air Guard] competitors running.”

 Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted adviser to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, located at the  Pentagon in Arlington, Va., was on-hand to view the joint-service activities.

 “One of the many benefits that I’m seeing is soldiers and airmen competing side-by-side, getting to know one another,”  said Jelinski-Hall. “This is important, so when there’s a state natural disaster, a flood, fire or a tornado, they already  know each other.”

 The competition’s challenges included: a 6-mile road march; an obstacle course; the use of combat arms; a land  navigation exercise; proficiency in various warrior tasks; writing an essay; and appearing before a board that reviewed  their personal appearance, military bearing and knowledge.

O’Gorman said the Air Guard members came from “all different backgrounds and specialties.”

“So far, we’ve seen some great competitiveness,” O’Gorman said. “We’ve also started seeing the camaraderie that we knew would foster out of this event. We’re all one.”

The Texas Air Guard chief’s assessment was affirmed by an Army Guard participant.

The joint-service nature “benefits the competitors, because you all come along together,” said Spc. Cynthia Chavez, a member of the Texas Army National Guard’s 949th Brigade Support Battalion in El Paso. “I’ve learned a lot from the Air Force that I did not know – we’re all ‘one fight, one team.’ It’s motivating.”

O’Gorman said he sees the joint-service training continuing to build in the future.

“This is what we want to do, this is more of what we want to showcase in our state,” O’Gorman said. “It’s the Texas Military Forces theme, that we’re all one in the uniform.”