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Students in a Maneuver Captains Career Course class got some advice from one of their own Nov. 25, as Capt. Jonathan Anderson shared his experiences implementing aspects of the Armys Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program during his time as a company commander.
The CSF2 program is intended to support the Armys Ready and Resilient Campaign, and promotes resilience and enhanced performance among Soldiers, Families and Army civilians.
Anderson commanded D Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, but prior to that, he was a collegiate wrestler at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. from 2002-06.
Anderson said he first began to embrace the principles of the CSF2 program through the Center for Enhanced Performance at West Point.
As I got into a more structured setting at West Point, they had the Center for Enhanced Performance, and thats where I really came to understand how to get to that next level of performance, Anderson said.
I fought my way into the teams starting lineup and had some success, but I never really got to that next level until I started applying specific mental skills into my everyday life. It worked for me, so I knew it would work for my platoon as a platoon leader and in every organization Ive been a part of since then.
Anderson said he implemented mental skills training throughout the company while in command of D Company, and by the time he left command, qualification scores were up across the board.
Beyond the scores, Anderson said he saw an increased level of mental resilience in his Soldiers.
The mental toughness and the ability to keep composure in every stressful situation was what I really saw, he said. Basic training is full of stressful situations, but the composure and the ability to meet the demands with an emotional balance and determination was big.
During the training, Anderson said privates were taught techniques such as ways to refocus during stressful situations.
Drill sergeants noticed that maturity seemed to increase because they had a structured way to deal with things, Anderson said.
When you tell a private to refocus, they didnt throw a temper tantrum. They had to make a quick transition to warfighter in less than 14 weeks. The drill sergeants saw that the privates had a refocus technique where they used a key word, took a deep breath and were able to refocus that way. That was a specific tool to increase maturity.
In addition to the skills each Soldier learned during the training, Anderson said the mental skills training also helped to foster an environment of trust within the company.
I think a key to the training was that it helped shift from a fear-based style of leadership to a trust-based style of leadership, Anderson said. The trainees in my company knew that we were all about performance and getting to the highest possible level to fight and win in combat. Thats our mission as combat leaders. By having a structured system provided by CSF2, it just gave some validity to that and showed that was what our priority was. The motivation that spurred from that in both the trainees and the drill sergeants was noticeable on a day-to-day basis.