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Challenged to keep their composure through rounds of simulated gunfire, explosions and aggressive enemies, students of the Warrior Leader Course got a taste of what it takes to remain focused and resilient as an NCO on the battlefield Friday at Malone MOUT Site on Sand Hill.
The Henry Caro Noncommissioned Officer Academy Warrior Leader Course combines four weeks of classroom dynamics with an intense field environment that involves hands-on, performance-oriented training.
Led by a team of NCO small group instructors, students are evaluated on standards, discipline and battle tactics that will prepare them to execute squad level operations in a variety of environments. The course incorporates nine battle drills, 39 warrior tasks with weapons immersion, a 36-hour situational training exercise and an evaluated land navigation course. Sgt. 1st Class Kenyatta Gardner, senior small group leader, said 89 students were currently enrolled in the course, which provided an opportunity for them to use materials provided throughout the course with real-world experiences.
Students participated in several operations where small group leaders assigned students as squad leaders, Gardner said. Students are evaluated on decision making skills rather than task accomplishment. SGLs evaluate students on performing the troop leader procedures, displaying leader attributes and core leadership compasses.
Soldiers were put to the test by safely leading squads through missions in a variety of combat scenarios and cultural differences, such as identifying IEDs, recovering a casualty from a mosque and engaging the imam of an Afghani village for the proper burial of a casualty. Cadre use smoke canisters and simulators to symbolize indirect fire while Soldiers are disguised as enemies to evaluate the proper use of weapons and leadership performance.
Everyone has their own kind of leadership style, but we want to see what decisions they will make with those leadership skills and how they use what that they have learned, said small group leader Sgt. James Clark. Were not saying that one leadership style is good or bad, but we put them in situations where they are making decisions. In war there is no right or wrong answer, you just do what youre instincts tell you to do at that particular time.
Small group leader Staff Sgt. Francis Trunck said the course includes a variety of units, ranks, military occupational specialties and varied experience with weapons or combat experience. The goal is to prepare them all to make decisions on the battlefield in a timely manner.
Spc. Kimbrea Fisher, a heavy equipment operator with 149th Transportation Company from Fort Eustis, Va., said the course prepared her to respond effectively to unexpected circumstances and trust her battle buddies.
You have be aware at all times that your Soldiers are aware of every sector and theyre scanning the area to find the enemy, Fisher said. There is a lot that you could take from this training, like teamwork, trusting your instincts and how to keep your Soldiers alive if youre in a leadership position. Its about expecting the unexpected.