Cortland National Guard Soldier represents Northeast at National Competition

Corporal Dakoatah Miller named Best Warrior for Northeast Region Following May 3-7 event

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Cpl. Dakoatah Miller preparing to execute the land navigation course during the Northeast Best Warrior contest.

LATHAM, NY (05/12/2021) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Cpl. Dakoatah Miller, a Cortland resident and a college student, will compete in the Army National Guard's national Best Warrior competition in July at Camp Navajo, Arizona.

Miller, age 21, was the winner in the junior enlisted category at the Northeast region Best Warrior competition held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from May 3 to 7.

He defeated the top Army National Guard Soldiers from New England and New Jersey to get the chance to be the best junior enlisted Soldier in the 350,000-member Army National Guard.

Miller, who joined the Army National Guard in 2017, serves in the Scout Platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment which is headquartered in Utica.

He took part in the competition alongside Staff Sgt. Stephen Mulholland, an Auburn resident who is also a member of his battalion, who was the New York Army National Guard Best Warrior winner in the non-commissioned officer category. Mulholland finished second in the regional competition in his category.

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.

Miller will be a "fierce competitor" at the national Best Warrior competition, said New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski.

"He is a focused and professional Soldier who prepares and executes Army business with great energy," Piwowarski said.

The Best Warrior competition is an annual event in which Soldiers from across New York compete at their local units before going onto a statewide competition.

The multi-day competition tests a Soldier's military knowledge, physical fitness, endurance, and marksmanship.

The events usually include a stress shoot, which involves engaging multiple targets with multiple weapons in a simulated tactical environment, and a physical fitness test as well as a 12-mile forced march in which Soldiers must carry a 35 pound pack and a weapon. Miller completed the march at the regional competition in two hours and fourteen minutes.

Soldiers are also judged on tasks that can range from assembling and disassembling a machine gun, emplacing a land mine, navigating at night and during the day with map and compass, to treating a simulated casualty.

The Soldiers are also quizzed on their military knowledge by a board of senior Soldiers and judged on the correct wear of their military dress uniforms.

Miller went directly from the competition in New Jersey to taking part in an Expert Infantry Badge test at Fort Drum, New York sponsored by the 10th Mountain Division.

He will prepare for the national competition with a program of "high-quality physical training and studying," Miller said.

A team of experienced sergeants, including Mulholland, have been helping him train for the Best Warrior competitions, Miller said, and he will continue to work with them to prepare for the Army National Guard event.

Miller said he is also hoping to get out to Arizona prior to the contest so he can get used to working out at the 7,000 feet of altitude where that contest will be held.

The winner of that competition competes against winners of the Active Army and Army Reserve contests to be the top Soldier in the entire United States Army.

Miller, a football player in high school and college, said he viewed the Best Warrior Competition as another athletic event.

"I've always been a competitor," he said. "The first time I hear about the Best Warrior I wanted to do it."

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 is a graduate of the Army's Air Assault School and Distributed Leader Course. He has been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.

"I love the infantry, I do not want to do anything other than that," Miller said.

His career plan now, Miller said, is to make it past the Best Warrior Competition, and then attend as many military schools as he can to "get as much experience as I can with the Guard."

Ultimately, he would like to transfer to the active Army and become a Green Beret. That course, he said, would be the ultimate competition.:

PHOTO CAPTION: New York Army National Guard Cpl. Dakoatah Miller negotiates the land navigation course during the 2021 Northeast Region Best Warrior Competition on May 4, 2021 at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Miller won the competition in the junior enlisted Soldier category and will represent the Northeast at the Army National Guard competition in Arizona in July. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Benjamin Martinez)