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Eagle Tower challenge boosts troops’ confidence

The Army’s one station unit training teaches new recruits Infantry skills while also providing something immeasurable and necessary in a young Soldier’s profession: self-confidence and mental discipline.

Five days into their Army careers, the troops of F Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, are getting ample doses of both, courtesy of the Eagle Tower confidence course.

“We take them from young, immature, legal adults and make them into Infantryman. The goal with exercises such as this is to help them identify their fears and how to get over them,” said CSM Chris Robb, 3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment’s senior NCO, who joined the troops for training Tuesday.

Eagle Tower is a 60-foot rappel tower at Sand Hill — the site of Fort Benning’s OSUT and basic training — and tests each Soldier’s physical strength, endurance and ability to overcome obstacles.

The tower consists of several rope climbs, a ladder climb and a rappel off the top of the tower. For Tuesday’s training, the Soldiers were only required to do the ladder climb and tower rappel. Prior to bounding off the tower, the Soldiers practiced on an 8-foot wall and had drill sergeants check their equipment.

The Soldiers are still unsure of themselves, said SSG Jerry McTaggart, a 1st Platoon drill sergeant, but once they have a few obstacle and confidence courses under their belts, they will have the self-assurance and discipline that will hopefully see them through the next 14 weeks.

PV2 Corey Miller said the Eagle Tower was just as much a trust-building exercise as it was a team-building one because, after rappelling, Soldiers also learn to belay their battle buddy off the tower.

Belaying is a safety technique in which a stationary climber provides protection, by means of ropes, anchors and braking devices, to a descending partner.

“If your battle buddy is up there and he loses control and let’s go of the rope, he could slide all the way down. You can grab the rope and brake for him to stop him,” PVT Miller said.

He said building trust among the Soldiers early on is essential since they will soon be firing weapons with live rounds.

1SG Clinton Housel said the confidence course is also teaching the troops to have faith in their equipment. They learned to tie their own Swiss seat — a basic harness made from rope and used to rappel.

“If I’m ever in a situation where I have to tie a rope and rappel off a mountain or wall, I will know I can do it,” said PVT Christopher Glass.

The Soldiers graduate Jan. 28.