By Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Feb. 13, 2024) – Soldiers from the Army’s geospatial community are set to gather at Fort Leonard Wood April 12 to 14 for the first Regimental Best Mapper Competition to be held at the home of the U.S. Army Engineer School.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason Davis, a geospatial technical expert with Fort Leonard Wood’s U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Proponent Office – Geospatial, commonly referred to as TPO-Geo, competitions among Geospatial Engineer Soldiers are done at other locations, “but not to this scale and scope,” he said.

“Bringing it here to the home of the regiment, we’re hoping to have it more standardized and have the leadership — the commandant and some of the other senior leaders — see the true power of what geospatial can bring, not just to the Engineer Regiment, but to the larger Army,” Davis said.

Soldiers trained in the 12Y military occupational specialty — referred to by Davis as “12 Yankees” — are part of what he called a “very technical MOS.” He made the point that at different units, unique skills are honed. The goal with this competition is to see who can overcome challenges in a time-constrained environment, “no matter the circumstance.”

“At different units, you get different flavors,” Davis said. “At an aviation unit, you’re going to do a lot of stuff that’s geared at helicopters, for example. This is going to be a mix of all the different skills, no matter what unit you’re at.”

While many of the tasks are designed to be mentally taxing and performed on a computer in Fort Leonard Wood’s Brown Hall — including extracting and analyzing geographic data from satellite imagery, photography and field reconnaissance to create different types of geospatial products — others will feature some of the Soldiering skills and physical requirements seen at other Army competitions, said 1st Lt. Skye Landau, the action officer for the event and a geospatial development officer at the TPO-Geo, located in the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence headquarters building.

“Some of the physical, more Soldier-type tasks fall back on those basic fundamentals, like land navigation, a 12-mile ruck march — making sure if you are the best 12 Yankee, you also need to be the best Soldier in that field,” Landau said.

Like its larger USAES cousin, the Best Sapper Competition — to be held the week after Best Mapper — the Soldiers will compete as two-person teams, working together for the entirety of the 36-hour competition, Davis said.

“Even though some of the events — they’re going to do the (physical training) test individually — it’s going to be combined scores,” Davis said. “So, everything they’re going to do, especially when they get to the technical aspects, it’s going to test how well they work together, how well they meld together to create the best product in the time given.”

Landau said the competition is open to all ranks of enlisted Soldiers, and 11 teams are signed up so far, from units as far away as Italy, Germany and Hawaii — there is even an international team from Great Britain signed up.

“They wanted to throw their hat in the ring and see how they do against U.S. 12 Yankees,” Davis said. “Hopefully, that will help us showcase not only what the U.S. does but highlight some of the international partnerships that we have as well.”

One of the teams coming from Europe for the competition consists of Sgts. Jonathan Sanchez and Cameron Tillisch, with the 517th Geospatial Planning Cell in Vicenza, Italy. Both Sanchez and Tillisch said competitions like this provide many learning opportunities, but the Soldiers also hope to “bring back the ‘W’ for the 517th,” Sanchez said.

“I am looking to gain experience, confidence and camaraderie,” the Rochester, New York, native added. “I love competitive activities that challenge and bring out the best in everyone.”

Tillisch, originally from Valencia, California, said the team has been physically training together for the past year and the two are currently studying additional material to better prepare.

When the awards are presented on the final day of the competition, Landau said she hopes each competitor feels they were “exposed to more.”

“A (private first class) is going to learn so much just working in that same environment as that staff sergeant,” Landau said. “Even if they come from vastly different home units, it’s early exposure in the career, and it gives you somebody to look up to. I think that mentorship is also going to be a huge part moving forward and especially in developing young Soldiers in the 12 Yankee community to be those senior NCOs later down the line.”

The deadline to sign up for Fort Leonard Wood’s Best Mapper Competition is March 21, and Landau said those interested in signing up or learning more are welcome to email, or

Army Geospatial Engineer Soldiers will converge on Fort Leonard Wood in April for the first Best Mapper Competition to be hosted at the U.S. Army Engineer School. During the competition, these Soldiers will compete to see who can produce the best geospatial products in a time-constrained environment, while also being judged on Soldiering skills, including land navigation and a 12-mile ruck march. (U.S. Army photo)













About Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.