Posts Tagged ‘Soldiers’
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 20, 2017) — This is the seventh in a series following five Army National Guard Split Option Program recruits during basic combat training. The headline is adapted from Chuck Berry’s opening line in “Let it Rock.”
The sticky Oklahoma heat these last few weeks didn’t keep C Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery basic combat trainees from doing the hard grunt work of becoming Soldiers. However, their final field exercise did find them sleeping in less-than-spartan lodging — air-conditioned tents!
Considering that temperatures were near the 100-degree mark during Field Training Exercise (FTX) 3 held in mock urban villages, the artificially cool nights were a well-deserved break during the four-day bivouac at Forward Operating Base Kelly. Though the tents were large, they were crowded with cots. Spit-baths with pre-moistened towelettes were shower substitutes, but trainees did eat real food in the chow line.
Come morning July 13, they looked bright-eyed and battle-ready, their sun-reddened faces glistening with the dew of a humid Oklahoma day. The Platoon Wars were on!
The defenders were 2nd Platoon, at Little Chicago village about a mile away from FOB Kelly. It was one of three Middle Eastern-themed villages within sight of each other, made of old shipping containers called Conex’s. The Death Dealers prepared to defend against an attack by 1st Platoon’s Headhunters. The defenders had M16s, several M249 machine guns and a limited amount of ammo, but held the distinct advantage of wide-open spaces between them and their attackers.
Several snipers hid in the tall grass between the village and a line of trees, and rooftop sentries easily spotted the first advance. Gunfire and “artillery” explosions “killed” those designated by the cadre, and the “dead” simply removed their helmets and stopped shooting.
It was a hard-fought battle, but it was over within minutes. Although some of the attackers got through, the defenders won. Each team had a lengthy after-action discussion about what they did wrong, and what went right.
Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Diego Vega sat with 2nd Platoon in the shade and asked, “What was supposed to happen?” One Soldier answered, “We were supposed to defend the village, drill sergeant.”
Another said, “Kill the enemy.” They took turns describing their tactics. Across the “street,” Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Michael Deserio’s 1st Platoon did the same analysis.
“How did we succeed on Normandy?” he asked, referring to the World War II invasion. “We kept going, right? Kept going, kept going … Did we have any cover on the way up? No, we didn’t. It didn’t matter. We had to get here. Fast! That’s why I told you, ‘just run.’ When the gunfire starts, do a 3-to-5-second rush. You have to get here. You have to get to that wall, because that wall is cover.”
Battery 1st Sgt. Joshua Pickering told of his experience in Iraq with the rules of engagement and the difficulty of trying not to kill civilians. He also advised, “Don’t rush to failure. You see the consequence of rushing to failure. So, what’s the consequence of taking your time?”
Deserio said later that in a real life situation he would have launched more artillery and dropped a lot of smoke to hide the advance of his troops into the village. Despite the lack of cover and the advantage of rooftop shooters, his Soldiers used their individual movement techniques to attack the village. “Artillery would have been the key to success,” he said.
3rd and 4th Platoons got their chance that afternoon, then the battery did it all over again the next day at a mock village near the Conex Arch. This one had realistically painted exterior walls, and inside were nests of barn swallows that weren’t used to invaders keeping them from feeding their hatchlings.
1st Platoon was the defense this time, and they were told to give the attackers a good fight even though they faced certain “death.” Several trainees were stationed by the arch, and when 2nd Platoon arrived, “artillery” smoke filled the air as they advanced.
Doors were kicked in, defenders dispatched, and rooms cleared amid the sound of blanks and the scent of gunpowder. In just a few minutes, it was all over. Again, these battles continued into the afternoon. This time, however, the trainees got an extended rest break to cool off and hydrate. The day ended with a march back to the barracks, about eight miles away. To beat the heat, they started late, and arrived in the “cool” of the evening. FTX 3 had concluded.
Of the five ARNG trainees featured in this series, two are now platoon guides: Pfc. Rachel Dibbins (2nd Platoon “Death Dealers” and Pfc. Cailin Cinnamon (1st Platoon “Headhunters.”) Cinnamon’s appointment came about a week after 1st Platoon’s initial guide was “fired for talking in formation,” she said. “The drill sergeant walked up and said, ‘You’re fired! Cinnamon, get up here!”
Both wear Sgt. 1st Class stripes on their right arms –an honorary rank. Watching them in action, it’s clear they don’t hesitate to take charge. They bark “stop talking” or “get in formation,” but are not immune to correction from the drill sergeants themselves.
They represented their platoons during the pugel stick competition against 4th Platoon, July 8, with Cinnamon declared the winner of her round. Dibbins lost to her opponent. “She’s a beast,” she laughed.
All five also accepted new challenges on the Confidence Obstacle Course, learned hand-to-hand fighting techniques, and expanded their weaponry skills on machine guns and grenade launchers. There was even a “Nick at Night” training where they crawled in the dark through a hail of live fire 30 feet above their heads. If they continue to beat the heat (in more ways than one), they are set to graduate July 28.
FORT HUACHUCA, Arizona — A member of the Minnesota National Guard was recognized for his outstanding performance and leadership during an advanced individual training (AIT) graduation ceremony held July 18 here.
Cpl. Sean Lyndes, a native of Minneapolis, was selected by his instructors and cadre at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) as the distinguished honor graduate of the 35T Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer/Integrator Course (Class 16-020).
Lyndes, who completed basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in June 2014, has been a member of the Headquarters Battalion, 34th Infantry Division for three years. He joined the Army to develop himself.
“I wanted to learn self-discipline and have an opportunity to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to Minnesota National Guard members like state tuition reimbursement,” Lyndes said.
The 35T Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer/Integrator Course is a 39-week course, one of the longest AIT courses USAICoE offers. Soldiers learn to maintain, integrate and repair a myriad of intelligence and signal systems that allow military intelligence analysts at multiple levels to communicate and exchange intelligence information. Graduates receive multiple certifications and 42 credits towards a computer science degree from Cochise Community College.
“The information technology professional certifications and the college credits for computer science I could achieve really motivated me to do well here,” Lyndes said. “That and the excellent instructors who really pushed us to master the systems and get really familiar with the systems and learn the various shortcuts to use to trouble shoot the systems.”
Lyndes says he looks forward to rejoining his unit in Minnesota and preparing for whatever lies ahead, but says he will miss the comradery of his military occupational specialty training at Fort Huachuca.
“I really enjoyed the small group environment here and working with the members of my class as a team… that really helped me succeed here,” he said.
As I talk to the force, team members continue to ask for updates on changes to the Professional Military Education curriculum. The changes in the enlisted curriculum for self-development and PME courses will provide an improved and engaging learning experience for our force. I am excited about the changes and want to share with everyone a quick overview on where we are regarding the development and timelines. Please know that timelines listed are for planning purposes and may change due to mission requirements.
Structured Self-Development I – VI redesign
The legacy levels of Structured Self-Development will continue until the redesigned courses go through validation and are activated in the Army Learning Management System. U.S. Army Human Resources Command will continue to enroll Soldiers in the legacy courses until Oct. 1, 2019, then start enrollment in the new courses thereafter. Our goal is to have the team deliver levels I & II first, then activate the remaining levels III-VI no later than Oct. 1, 2019. You will see a dramatic change in the lessons that will act as building blocks to each level of noncommissioned officer PME and will directly relate to your duties, roles and responsibilities. The content will be streamlined and rigorous, but relevant and progressive to your development. I approved the redesigned lesson plan outlines and look forward to the final product.
Basic Leaders Course ready for validation
The lessons plans for the revised curriculum for the Basic Leaders Course are complete. The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy will begin the process of validating the curriculum at designated schools and installations across the force. The redesigned BLC will address leader competencies and attributes with concentration in communications, leadership, training management, readiness, operations and program management. The validation process includes all components, as we will continue to support the One Army School System. The USASMA will begin content validation starting in October 2017 and finish by the spring of 2018.
Advanced Leaders Course and Senior Leaders Course being validated
The USASMA is validating the curriculum for the leader core competencies curriculum at various Army installations between June and November 2017. The NCO feedback from the first two locations has been fantastic. As with the other NCO courses, the Advanced Leaders Course and Senior Leaders Course curriculum closes the development gap across all levels of NCO PME, linking BLC through MLC and ultimately, the Sergeants Major Course.
I know we are on the right track with ensuring you receive the best educational product during these courses. The validation process will continue through November 2017 as we travel to five more locations to deliver the content to the appropriate schools and centers of excellence to continue to improve the content.
Master Leaders Course validated
The MLC is the most challenging and demanding NCO course that will put your abilities and competencies to the test. You will experience a great sense of accomplishment and take away valuable skills that enhance your problem solving and critical thinking skills.
The USASMA is finishing the MLC validation at the last four of ten locations. The resident phase of the MLC will be operational to the force Oct. 1, 2017. The USASMA is developing the MLC as a nonresident course that will present the same academic challenges and demands as the resident course and will be facilitated from the academy. The nonresident MLC course will be operational April 1, 2018.
As you can see, we are changing the entire learning continuum for the enlisted cohort. For the first time in the history of our Army, the curriculum is progressive and sequentially linked throughout the entire continuum. We owe you the right leadership development in your NCO courses, and we are doing that by putting leadership front and center in our leader courses. You deserve the best educational experience possible in your courses, and we will continue to listen, adjust and provide you with a better learning experience.
Maj. Gen. John S. Kem, provost of Army University, and Dr. Greg Gunderson, president of Park University, signed an agreement July 13 at the Army University headquarters at Fort Leavenworth for the two universities to work together to seek collaborative solutions to address military-civilian educational issues that are in the best interest of providing a world-class educational experience for all service members.
Kem said the agreement was the result of months of work by many people from both universities. The agreement includes the potential to negotiate other joint partnership opportunities, the opportunity to participate in mutually beneficial research initiatives, a pledge to develop a reciprocal “visiting” professor exchange between the organizations, and the opportunity to collaborate on symposiums and similar events.
“We think this agreement will make a difference in the lives of enlisted personnel,” Gunderson said.
“Any change that makes education more efficient and more effective for the soldier is huge,” added Kirby Brown, deputy to the Commanding General of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth.
Army University is the premier learning institution for the Army, developing both military and civilian professionals who can understand and operate successfully within a complex future security environment. As such, it will transform one of the largest academic systems in the United States into a premier university system that harnesses the energy, experience and intellectual capacity in the Army to produce professionals that the nation will need for a complex and uncertain world tomorrow. Army University will accomplish this by increasing the rigor of the Army’s educational programs through broader accreditation, promoting greater collaboration with the nation’s premier universities and colleges, and improving integration among Army schools.
Park University provides university courses, credit and degrees as permitted by Park’s accrediting association, the Higher Learning Commission, which also accredits the master’s degree program at the Command and General Staff College. Park University has a long history of serving those who have dedicated much of their lives to serving the country.
To become a “best warrior” Soldiers need to “think big picture and don’t get stuck on a single topic,” U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s new Noncommissioned Officer of the Year said.
Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy and Spc. Charles Record were named TRADOC’s top Soldiers July 21 after a grueling week under the broiling South Carolina sun during the command’s best warrior competition held at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
“It was challenging,” McCarthy said after finishing the 12-mile ruck march in just under three hours. “The competitors here are top-notch from all TRADOC made it challenging in all events … Having the level of competition with these individuals, these NCOs definitely set the bar high.”
The BWC doesn’t just test Soldiers on “10-level skills, battle drill and basic knowledge,” said Record, a rigger with the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. “It tests Soldiers in all the skills they should know.”
Some people believe “TRADOC Soldiers aren’t as hooah as other Soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, TRADOC’s senior enlisted leader, prior to announcing the winners. “I guarantee if you talk to the men and women on that field, and they would tell you they are just as hooah as anyone in the Army.”
One way to do that was to be fit, disciplined and well-trained. The three outcomes were tested rigorously over the week.
Competitors faced medical testing Monday; an Army Physical Fitness Test, combatives and appeared before a board Tuesday; Victory Tower, weapons qualification and a live-fire exercise Wednesday; the Fit to Win 2 obstacle course and situational training exercises Thursday; and culminated with the Friday morning ruck march.
Hot, humid temperatures and a surprise event threw the competitors for a loop. High temperatures caused distractions while wearing body armor during STX lanes testing, while some events had to be paused as nightly thunderstorms rolled in.
Competitors faced a task not many, especially junior enlisted Soldiers, would see every day — writing an operations order and planning a platoon training event in under two hours.
“The mystery event caught me off guard,” said McCarthy, a Sapper Leaders Course instructor at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. “Going into this, they told us they were evaluating us on the total Soldier concept. When you are thinking PT, weapons, technical and physical event as well” it can be difficult to do a mystery task.
“It caught me off guard.”
“They gave us two hours to plan and brief a platoon training event,” Record said while resting his feet for a few minutes after completing the foot march. “It took all of two hours.”
The weather threw another curveball at the competitors that made some Soldiers have trouble concentrating.
Spc. Nicholas Bellamy from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy said he’s “from El Paso, Texas, so I’m sucking straight air. I’m’ always looking for oxygen any chance I can get it.”
“The weather is pretty challenging down here,” McCarthy said.
For Spc. Kiara Dale, Fort Jackson’s Soldier of the Year, the competition was challenging because she was the lone female in a field of men.
“It’s more of a challenge because they don’t think we can keep up with a guy,” she said.
Dale nearly choked out Spc. Morgun Yogore during the combatives event that pitted competitors against each other in a round-robin style tournament.
Whether Soldiers won or not, they were glad the BWC is completed.
“Honestly, it’s a big relief,” Dale said after the awards ceremony. “I finally made it to the end and I’m so excited. I thought Friday would never come honestly.”
(Editor’s note: Mark Manicone contributed to this report.)