The Guardsman behind the Challenge

Story and photos by Spc. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Staff Sgt. David Watts with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, explains why time is critical to each of the participants of the second annual Command Sergeant Major Challenge at the Hidden Valley training site in Powell County, Ky., Sept. 13-15. Each group of participants was given roughly ten minutes to complete each task and four hours in which to complete each lane. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

POWELL COUNTY, Ky. — Picking a location, surveying the land, and logistically planning a three-day challenge may sound like a tough job for most. However, that’s exactly what one man in the Kentucky National Guard did in preparation for one of the biggest training events for the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

Staff Sgt. David Watts, Intelligence non-commissioned officer for the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade designed the layout and developed the scenarios for each mission and subtasks for the Second Annual Command Sergeant Major Challenge at the 500-acre Hidden Valley Training site in Powell County, Ky., Sept. 13-15.

The 25-year veteran has worn the hat of a tanker for the active duty military and the Kentucky National Guard as well as an aviation intelligence NCO.

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Staff Sgt. David Watts with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, inputs data collected during the Command Sergeant Major Challenge at the Hidden Valley Training site, Sept. 13-15. This year, over 400 soldiers of the 63rd TAB participated. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

Watts has been in charge of designing that course for both years of the event. However, plans had to drastically change since the number of participants nearly doubled for 2013. The event also changed in the manner that only enlisted Soldiers were involved, from the planning, all through the execution of the challenge.

“This year we had to develop more task points,” said Watts, “We have over 400 participants this year, which allowed us to be more creative with each scenario.”

As soon as the event ended last year, Watts mind was already focused on this years event.

“I’ve been working on this project for about eight months,” said Watts, “In that time I planned the scenarios, developed the course map, and surveyed the area.”

Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Wilkins, who sponsored the event this year, expressed pride in the work Watts accomplished.

“Watts is the brains behind the entire mission,” said Wilkins, “He took it upon himself to get the job done. He is a strong asset to have in the 63rd.”

While Watts was in charge of most of the planning he doesn’t consider himself alone in the process. He also worked along with other various Soldiers from the 63rd TAB.

In his spare time he enjoys hanging out with his 12-year-old son and riding his motorcycle.

“I enjoy teaching him judo and archery,” said Watts.

The efforts made by Watts to complete a successful CSM Challenge was noticed by Kentucky’s State Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley. Chumley presented Watts with a coin for his excellence during an awards ceremony held on the last day of the event.

“This event is exactly the kind of idea we need to go with, for enlisted, by enlisted,” said Chumley. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”

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