FORT BENNING, Ga. — Infantry Soldiers in their second week of one station unit training discovered the importance of teamwork Thursday. In the process, they also got a little relief from the summer heat.
Squads from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, learned about problem-solving, situational awareness and unit cohesion while tackling the water lanes on a muggy day at the Leadership Reaction Course on Main Post. Unit leaders said it’s meant to be a building block for the “Red Phase” of training — which covers the first three weeks — and the remainder of the cycle.
“They’ll have to rely on each other all cycle. It’s important to learn now ’cause it’s definitely not going to get any easier,” said 1st Lt. Kurt Phelan, the company’s executive officer. “You can see them starting to come together as a team as they’re doing these obstacles. It’s a basic tenet in the Army: rely on each other and mutual survival.”
Each lane presented the Soldiers with different challenges and tasks. In most scenarios, they had to use wooden planks or ropes as bridges to get their equipment, ammo cans and personnel across the water. Some obstacles included barrels, tunnels and pillars as the only safe havens.
The platoons faced parameters at every station — red areas and walls were generally considered out of bounds. On others, equipment could touch but the body couldn’t.
“The Soldiers can fail without consequences at the different obstacles. It’s better to do that here than down the road when someone can get hurt,” Phelan said. “You’re not always going to have the tool you need to finish the job; you’re going to have to improvise.”
Before each task, the squads picked two team leaders and worked up an idea. They were given only a few minutes to complete the mission.
“We’re mostly working on esprit de corps and getting them unified as a team,” said Staff Sgt. David Bazzle, a drill sergeant. “Teamwork is the key here. You’ve got to work together as a team to accomplish anything.”
The Leadership Reaction Course features 20 lanes — 10 dry and 10 wet. Bazzle said Soldiers would get a mix of both in spring and fall. In winter, drill sergeants open up the dry lanes only to avoid giving trainees hypothermia.
With the heat index between 105 and 110 on Thursday, the Soldiers were confined to the water obstacles. They also got plenty of water breaks.
“We always throw them in the water after every task no matter what,” Bazzle said. “We’re trying to keep ’em cool.”
Pvt. Joseph Strasheim, 17, of Beresford, S.D., said he didn’t mind taking the plunge.
“It’s like 70 degrees right now where I’m from (so) the water feels nice,” he said. “The nighttime temperature here is our daytime temperature back in South Dakota.”
Thursday’s scenarios, meanwhile, were “a lot harder than it looks,” said Pvt. Michael Thorpe, 18, of Las Vegas.
He said the LRC tasks put emphasis on going in with a plan and executing it properly.
“It’s a lot more mental than physical,” Thorpe said. “It was interesting. It’s supposed to build teamwork and confidence in your teammates. You have to work together and be able to think things through.”
The company engaged a confidence course and obstacle course on Sand Hill before coming to the Leadership Reaction Course. Graduation is scheduled for Oct. 28.