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As students from the 19K Armor Advanced Leader Course get closer to graduation, their final field training exercise April 8-11 on Harmony Church tested their knowledge and abilities to serve as future platoons sergeants.
Part of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, the AR-ALC conducts field training exercises to train and educate NCOs from various installations to conduct land operations through a combination of offensive and defensive tactics.
Sgt. 1st Class Brian Ditzler, assistant branch chief for the AR-ALC, said the seven-week course includes classroom instruction on tank defensive and offensive operations. During the culminating exercise, students established reconnaissance to identify the enemy's attack time and location, occupied a screen-line position along dominating terrain and conducted mass direct and indirect fire.
"When they're out in the field, they apply everything that they have learned in those areas," Ditzler said. "They remember certain things through written exams and they move into the application of what they have learned through hands-on training."
Operating as a tank platoon with four M1A2 Abrams tanks and using Raven unmanned aerial systems, the course incorporates Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course students to continue the Maneuver Center of Excellence's partnership training efforts across the officer and NCO educational systems, Ditzler said.
Using the Army Learning Model 2015 and the Adaptive Soldier Leader Training and Education methodology, small group leaders facilitate training and guide students as they prepare for the role of platoon sergeant.
Small group leader Staff Sgt. Joseph Taylor said ALC students should always be prepared for high-intensity training environments and willing to think outside of the box.
"It's our responsibility to make sure they are taking everything they have learned over the past weeks and actually show that they can put that into practical application in roles as platoon sergeants, section sergeants and platoon leaders who can step outside of their comfort zones," Taylor said. "These guys use the knowledge they already know and learn from each other so they can take a step forward in their careers."
Sgt. Timothy Gray, a tank gunner with 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, at Fort Carson, Colo., said the course has helped him understand his role in tank operations on advanced level.
"I've had plenty of experience on the tank itself, but now after class I understand more about what my leadership had to deal with and the thought processes they had when they were preparing us for our operations," Taylor said.
2nd Lt. Chad Sweeton, with 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, said ABOLC students gain an advantage by exchanging ideas with NCOs.
"The best thing a young leader can do is develop trust and confidence within his fellow Soldiers and subordinates," he said. "I'm confident that my small group leaders were be able to teach me and push me in the right direction for development."
The ALC class will graduate April 18.