A storm of chaos is the best way to describe what it looks like.
More than 120 Soldiers running from the drop-off location to the front of their barracks. Drill sergeants weaving in and out of a sea of green and brown uniforms with a roar of motivation to move faster.
Barking out orders. Running. Loud motivation. Frustration. Chaos.
Welcome to Company D, 31st Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood.
Welcome to the Army.
1st Sgt. Alan Forester, company first sergeant, called their recent reception and integration process, “planned chaos” designed to introduce a little bit of stress.
“The only thing that was chaotic was the Soldiers themselves,” he said. “It’s designed to be hectic. It’s designed to provide that stressful environment.”
Capt. Zachary Weigelt, company commander, said the intent goes beyond just providing the chaos and stress. It is a way to adjust the mentality of the civilian volunteers on “training day zero” so the drill sergeants can build them back up as Soldiers throughout Basic Combat Training.
“We break that civilian mind-set right from the get go,” said Staff Sgt. Jerome Martinez, 1st Platoon drill sergeant. “This is what they will be enduring for the next 10 weeks.”
Pfc. Abbe Smitley, a new Co. D Soldier, said she wasn’t expecting the chaos that ensued once she stepped off the bus.
“I definitely think it was a little intense,” she said. Smitley admitted it was difficult to carry the bags and move at the pace requested by the drill sergeants in all the chaos.
Spc. Benjamin Buckheit, another Co. D Soldier, looked beyond the chaos and saw there was meaning to the way things were done.
“This is just the baseline,” he said, adding he was looking forward to what the Army molds him into from here.
“Everything you teach here at Basic Combat Training is just that: basic,” Forester confirmed. “It’s the first step to building that foundation.”
Forester went on to describe the reception and integration process as the first brick to building the foundations of these Soldiers’ careers in the Army. In the process of running from the bus to being separated into platoons, the new Soldiers learned about teamwork, the Army standards and accountability, he said.
“As chaotic as it seems,” Forester said, “they learned a lot out there, believe it or not.”