Last week Thursday to Saturday, the different units within the Belize Coast Guard cheered on their favourite teams as they took part in the first annual the Best Warrior Competition. The idea behind the competition is to simulate the harsh conditions while in the field to ensure the officers of the Coast Guard are in the best physical condition to be combat ready.
The upper command of this arm of the security forces put together a 3 day marathon consisting of all the forms of the toughest training that an officer has to go through. The best 8 from recruit intake 4, the young officers, the training instructors, the newly formed Coast Guard Seals and a fleet team, worked together to complete the challenges with the best time and coordination of the entire unit. That team gets bragging rights, and it gives the recruits and the young officers a chance to challenge their superiors in a test of fitness levels to see who has the best grasp of the concepts, learned in training.
7News got a chance to see this competition in action, and Admiral John Borland explained it's significance in keeping the Coast Guard at peak fitness levels. Here's what he said:
Admiral John Borland - Commandant, Belize Coast Guard
"We started what is now known as the Coast Guard Best Warrior Competition and this is the first of its kind, so its the Best Warrior Competition 2013. In the years gone by we had the Coast Guard Iron Man Competition which in the end produced the best individual in the Coast Guard. We've decided to change that now to the Best Warrior Competition which is a squad level competition. A squad consists of 8 men and that is the basic element that would be fighting for the Coast Guard if we come into contact or we go into battle with any opposing force."
"The competition consists of 6 events; first even being the Coast Guard physical fitness test. The second event being the ocean swim. The third event being a six mile endurance run. The fourth event being a swim and run competition where they swim a mile and then go and run 4.5 miles and today the third day the event this morning which is just about to conclude is the march and shoot competition and that consist of an 8 mile combat march with their full combat gear carrying couple burdens in excess of 150 pounds simulating the gear you'd be carrying into combat and also simulating a casualty that you would take before you get to the starting line to actually start combating with the enemy."
"So far we have 4 teams that have arrived at the finish point. They have completed the march and the shooting. We are just awaiting one more team and then we will be completed from here. From here as you see the guys are very dirty, very wet, very tired, very hungry, but we are almost done. There is one event remaining this afternoon and that is the cross-fit competition where they will be tested again on their speed, flexibility, agility, endurance and strength. We have obstacle course that they have to negotiate then there is the tire flip and drag competition, and then there is the chain carry competition, a log competition, a rope climbing competition. The event is about to culminate."
So, after 3 days of that, what did the participants think of high level of difficulty? They told us that it shows what parts of their training needs to intensified, and what areas the Coast Guard is currently weak in:
Petty Officer Sanki, Training Instructor - Belize Coast Guard
"It definitely was a stiff challenge. However, when it comes down to your personal physical standard meeting the elements, it's all about mind over matter. It definitely wasn't easy with the type of waves you had coming in later on. In the morning the waves got pretty high and it kind of restrict or movement, but overall we did manage. It's very rough."
Gian Carlo Alpuche, Officer - Belize Coast Guard
"We were taught to lead from the front, so its a little disconcerting when you are shown up by a recruit, but it's one team, one fight. It's all good fun and we'll just keep our nose to the grindstone and hopefully tomorrow we can at least beat them in something."
"Explain now, what it is like to swim one mile in that sea?"
Gian Carlo Alpuche, Officer - Belize Coast Guard
"It's definitely challenging. I mean we are Coast Guard and we probably should do more swimming that we do right now. With the sea state the way it was when we took the water - it was definitely a good test. It's a different thing when you are swimming in the pool in ideal conditions. When you are out there the sun is beating you, the salt in your eyes and swallowing a little bit of water - it's a whole different ballgame. It's a good challenge."
"Admiral Borland has done a good job of highlighting the deficiencies of the Coast Guard and emphasizing physical fitness and so with the help of Mr. Jones, our physical instructor, we've undertaken a program where we do PT 5 times a week; every day. Mondays and Fridays we emphasize swimming. There is a lot of cardiovascular endurance when it comes to swimming and then Tuesday/Thursday/Wednesdays we emphasize running and strength training. The swimming is pretty vigorous, so that helps us prepare, but you definitely have to put in your own effort and your personal time as well."
After the 3 days of the competition, the Seals emerged as the winners, and the recruits were second, the 2 most physically active groups within the Coast Guard. The plan in future Best Warrior Competitions is to allow teams from the Police Department and the BDF to participate.