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Nov 21, 2014

BCG Holds Best Warrior Competition

This afternoon, forty exhausted soldiers who are being pushed to the limits of their endurance completed in day-two of the Coast Guard’s Best Warrior Competition. There are five teams of eight members each, selected from the Coast Guard and the Belize Defence Force, which must undergo an intensive round of exercises designed to test their strength, stamina, endurance and will. Day one included sustained bouts of physical exercises, followed by an extended run and a two mile ocean swim. And that was only the beginning of a quest to win bragging rights and the title of Best Warriors – the best of the best. Mike Rudon was at Coast Guard headquarters today and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

There can hardly be any doubt that for the soldiers of the Coast Guard, this competition is serious business. It is a time trial based on a point system, and currently the Belize Special Assignments Group is in third place. It is their first time in the competition, so the elite squad, facing four teams from the Coast Guard, has a lot to prove, and little time to do it.


Derick Castillo

Lieutenant Derick Castillo, Training Officer, Belize Coast Guard

“We have the Fleet…that would be from the Coast Guard headquarters here. We have the recruits who have just passed behind us in the yellow shirt. We have the BSAG, Special Assignments Group. We have the SEALS participating and then we have an Officers team. The ranking so far is the fleet in first place, followed by the recruits. We then have the SEALS, followed by BSAG, and then we have the officers bringing in the fifth place position.”


Today’s test was about strength and endurance, carrying heavy weights over a one mile course to simulate the special operations which, theoretically, these teams should all be experts in and eminently qualified to complete at a moment’s notice.


Lieutenant Derick Castillo

“This morning we started off and what we do is that the team that came in fifth will be the team to start off early in the morning. So this morning we did the six-mile run from inside the base here all the way to the cemetery just inside Belize City and then return here to this position. What we are doing here is the Coast Guard medley, which includes the movement of burdens along a one mile route which is inside the compound here, round and about all the way to the dock, and then changing weights every time we move. The first weight that they move with is the body armour which has thirty ponds in it. They take that off and transition to the vest which has forty pounds. They transition from the vest to a stretcher with two jerry cans which would represent a man on a stretcher with one hundred and fifty pounds. Thereafter we transition to the cliques which would weigh about twenty-five pounds.”


By that point every member of the team is drenched in sweat and clearly fatigues. These are the Coast Guard recruits, complete with cheering squad including drums and signs. They appear too young to compete seriously with the elite squads, but were actually in second place heading into today’s round. They are obviously determined to prove themselves by staging a serious upset, but as you can see here, they struggle to complete the final trial, climbing these two ropes before claiming a successful finish.


Lieutenant Derick Castillo

“We would expect that the recruits would do extremely well on this portion of training, because it was taught to them during their thirteen weeks of training, so we expect good production out of the recruits. Compared to the other four, they might have more experience in handling and taking loads…the recruits have a limited idea, but they would always do well because of the amount of training put into them to get them up to this standard of fitness where they are at this point in time.”


The Fleet is the Coast Guard’s team of regular operators, and they have managed to steal first place from the SEAL team and BSAG, but they will be hard pressed to keep that lead heading into Saturday. The final day’s gruelling exercise is called the ‘march and shoot,’ and gets underway at six-thirty. Castillo says this is where he expects the SEALS to excel and take over leadership from the fleet and from the recruits, since it is here that their specialized training will pay off. The teams will leave the Boom Bridge and staggered intervals depending on their ranks going into that leg. It is the most intensive and difficult phase of the three day exercise.


Lieutenant Derick Castillo

“We start off with the burgons which have forty pounds in there…helmet and all that military stuff that you would have going into war. They will march with that burgon and all that kit, and along the way they will meet jerry cans with water in there that they must take along with them as part of the team. Along the way you also meet some ammunition containers. They will take those also. The stretchers that we have there…they will pick those up and take them all the way to the range. When they get to the range they will be extremely exhausted, but we still want them to be able to fight. So after taking all that kit off and placing it down, they’ll be issued the ammunition and then they have to crawl from a two hundred and fifty metre firing point to the two hundred metre firing point and then engage from a prone position which will be two hundred metres away from it.”


The stage from the final showdown will be the B.D.F.’s shooting range near Hattieville. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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