Cortland National Guard Soldier is New York "Best Warrior" for 2021

SUNY Cortland student Dakoatah Miller will represent New York National Guard at New Jersey regional competition in May

Related Media

NY Army National Guard Spc. Dakoatah Miller finishing the 12-mile forced march during the NY National Guard Best Warrior contest on April 21 at Camp Smith Training Site.

CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. (04/29/2021) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Specialist Dakoatah Miller, a Cortland resident, was named Best Warrior in the junior enlisted Soldier category following a grueling three day competition that concluded on April 22.

Miller will now represent New York against National Guard Soldiers from the six New England states and New Jersey in a similar completion conducted May 3-7 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The winner of that competition competes on a national level against National Guard Soldiers from across the country.

For the past three years New York Army National Guard Soldiers have won the northeast competition in both the junior enlisted and non-commissioned officer category.

The 22-year old Miller, a member of the Scout Platoon of Headquarters Company of the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment, represented the New York National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in the competition, which was held at Camp Smith Training Site in the Hudson Valley near Peekskill.

He competed against three other junior enlisted Soldiers representing other components of the New York National Guard.

Miller holds an Associate of Science Degree from Tompkins County Community college and is working towards a Bachelor of Science Degree in kinesiology at SUNY Cortland. Kinesiology is the study of human body movement.

Miller joined the New York Army National Guard in 2017 and is graduate of the Army's Air Assault School and Distributed Leader Course. He has been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.

Another member of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, Staff Sgt. Stephen Mulholland, won in the non-commissioned officer category.

The competition tests the Soldiers physical fitness, military knowledge and skills, marksmanship, endurance, and ability to perform under pressure.

"The 108th Infantry prepared these competitors very well," said Command Sgt. Major David Piwowarski, the New York Army National Guard's top enlisted leader.

"The will get to compete as a team in New Jersey and I am confident that these fit and ready Soldiers will represent New York with excellence," he said.

In the marksmanship competition, Soldiers engaged pop-up targets with the standard issue M-4 carbine, the M-9 pistol and the M-500 military issue shotgun. They were required to engage targets while on the move and being required to conduct other tasks like dragging a simulate casualty to safety.

The competitors were tested on their ability to conduct first aid tasks, emplace an anti-personnel mine, respond to a chemical attack and disassemble and assemble two type of machineguns and navigate using map and compass.

Their marksmanship skills with the M240B machine gun were tested in a virtual engagement trainer, and the Soldiers were quizzed on military information and uniform wear by a board of senior non-commissioned officers.

The Soldiers' physical fitness was challenged by a drill known as a "Murph" in which they had to run a mile, do 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and the run another mile.

Finally a 12-mile "forced march" carry a loaded rucksack and M-4 carbine tested their endurance.

Miller, Piwowarski said, "drove on with machine-like efficiency."

"The experience overall, was well put together, "Miller said.

"At any level it is something a Soldier should try to do," he said. "At the end of the day it is a teacher it is going to tell you what you can improve on as an overall as a soldier."

"It gives you something you can bring back to your unit whether you are a leader or a future leader," Miller added.

He will continue training and is looking forward to the competition in New Jersey, he said.