The Bayonet

Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012

Recon course builds leaders

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The Army Reconnaissance Course, taught by the Armor School, is a 27-day class designed to transform Soldiers from a variety of military occupational specialties into reconnaissance leaders.

“Here, we focus on adaptive Soldier-leader training and education methodology which provides us the ability to develop agile and adaptive leaders,” said Capt. William Biggs, the course manager. Through three phases, the course builds on the students’ knowledge.

The first phase uses classroom instruction, simulations like Virtual Battle Space Trainer and a field training exercise to teach the Soldiers how to recognize the effects of terrain features, evaluate routes and obstacles.

“The (course) uses outcomes and performance measures to evaluate its students. This is what sets the course apart from all other military courses,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jared Martin, the ARC teach chief. The course recognizes that many skills and situations have more than one acceptable way of solving the problem.

“The course design links each day to the next, like a building block of instructions. Students are accountable for retaining the knowledge they received on the previous days, as they will have to continue to demonstrate the skills they have been taught in the context of a reconnaissance mission,” Martin said.

Phase 2, or “Operation Goldeneye,” builds on the Soldiers’ reconnaissance tactics, Martin said.

“In phase two, they come together as a squad and operate as a section in either an Infantry brigade combat team or a Stryker brigade combat team,” Martin said.

During Operation Goldeneye, the objective is to reconnoiter effectively into an urban area. Using one of two different reconnaissance techniques, students will maintain covert operations and avoid detection from enemy threats or the students will conduct overt reconnaissance and carry out their mission without concealment, Martin said.

The Army Reconnaissance Course incorporates the student-centric teaching method and adaptive Soldier leader training. This method of training represents one of Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster’s priorities for the Maneuver Center of Excellence — leader development.

The ARC uses a 360-degree assessment tool. There are four assessment forms that are used — self-assessment, peer assessment, cadre assessment and performance rubric, Martin said. This style of evaluation holds each student accountable to themselves and to the Soldiers they are training and serve with.

Phase 3 includes more simulated training and a field exercise in squad-level operations, Martin said. The difference is the students work without the instructors’ direction.

Blackjack is the course’s final exercise — the culmination of all the skills taught, Martin said. Students coordinate with Blackhawk pilots on Fort Benning to insert them onto one of the various landing zones.

“The students will struggle with time and space during this operation,” he said. Operating as a reconnaissance platoon from either an IBCT or SBCT, they will conduct this operation both as a mounted platoon and dismounted squad.

“Once each platoon has reached a certain portion of this operation, they will be removed from the field and placed into simulation to finish out the exercise,” Martin said. While gathering relevant intelligence, the Soldiers are primarily focused on security operations to include air ground integration.

“The leaders that come from the Army Reconnaissance Course leave here with an unprecedented amount of knowledge,” Biggs said. “The cadre that we have here are professionals, top tier individuals, and that, coupled with the learning methodology that they use, will create better, adaptive Soldiers, leaders and thinkers.”

The ARC focuses on the mastery of reconnaissance skills and the development of the leader attributes of adaptability, anticipation, critical thinking, deliberate thought, and risk management, Martin said.

“The lessons these future platoon leaders and platoon sergeants learn will stay with them as they move through their career incorporating the same learning methodologies and skills they learned at the ARC,” Martin said.

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