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Taking on Eagle Tower: Soldiers develop confidence, teamwork

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Soldiers in their second week of basic combat training took a first crack at Sand Hill’s Eagle Tower Aug. 17.

The group from B Company, 1st Battalion, 378th Infantry Regiment, took turns climbing and descending the iconic structure, which features “A-frame” steps, wooden ladders and platforms, roped bridges, a cargo net and 40-foot rappel wall. Unit leaders said the obstacle builds teamwork, motivation and confidence for the so-called “Red Phase” of training — which covers the first three weeks — and the remainder of the cycle.

“It’s allowing them to see they can accomplish things they’ve never done before,” said SGT Steven Denney, a drill sergeant. “Most have never been off the ground in their lives. This gives them a personal confidence boost and also promotes team camaraderie.

“We just build them blocks till graduation date and keep the process going to them becoming a Soldier.”

Some trainees picked up the rappelling techniques quicker than others, springing off the wall and toward the ground with relative ease. But all urged each other along as they went up and down Eagle Tower.

CPT Monica Timmons, the company commander, said the Soldiers gain trust in the equipment during the outing.

“They’re overcoming not only the obstacles but the fears they may have,” she said. “To them, something like this is a first-time experience. We have some privates who have never even been camping before. They’re learning how to work as a team.”

Timmons said B Company has 210 trainees this cycle — 88 are headed for active duty while more than 40 will attend Officer Candidate School. The rest are National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.

Denney said self-confidence and drive are the keys to overcoming Eagle Tower.

“That’s all it is - personal courage,” he said.

Before week’s end, the company also was set to engage the obstacle course, Leadership Reaction Course, confidence course and gas chamber, Timmons said. Graduation is Oct.