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NEWS | March 13, 2020

Kentucky Guard Soldiers take part in leadership course

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade took part in the Light Leader Course at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center March 6-15.  

Ranger instructors with the Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning worked in conjunction with the 238th Regional Training Institute to conduct a fast paced and challenging course that consisted of classroom training, situational training exercise (STX) lanes, land navigation and close quarters marksmanship.

“The selling point for this course is that all my instructors are ranger qualified,” said 1st Sgt. Joshua Eaton, Alpha company First Sergeant. “They are getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. Plus it’s not just that they are tactically and technically proficient, it’s that they’re certified to be Army instructors on small unit tactics and how to teach how to be team leaders and squad leaders.”

The Soldiers have to take in a lot of information in a short amount of time since there is a lot of information to get across in a very short period.  Something that could best be described as drinking water out of a fire hose according to Eaton. 

“The training has been good,” said Spc. Alec Van Alstine, carpenter and masonry specialist with the 149th Engineer Vertical Construction Company. “Especially working with the Rangers, there are things that I have seen before, but here it’s a lot more detailed now.” 

The information that gets dumped onto the LLC Soldiers covers a wide variety of infantry tactics that are important to make efficient fighting warriors.

“We teach them everything from react to contact, to squad attack, break contact, all the way to how to conduct an ambush,” said Eaton. “We have to do it in a classroom setting first and then we take them out and conduct practical exercises and teach them as we walk through how to actually execute every one of these drills.  Then the culminating event is the FTX portion of our training where it all comes together and they’re able to conduct a whole combat patrol.”

“A lot of this stuff is probably over their heads, especially our E-1s and E-2s,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Braly, platoon sergeant, at Ranger Training Assessment Course (RTAC). “Here we’re taking more of a care-led role so they can see what right looks like.” 

The instructors had to make sure every Soldier was on the same page and spent time clearly stating the roles and responsibilities for each student in their squad.  

“We’ve opened up the course with assumptions of command, roles, duties and responsibilities so everybody knows what is expected of each and every position,” said Braly. “It is important that they know that because at some point we are going to rotate them through leadership positions and it exposes them to what they should be doing for their squads. At the heart of it all, every Soldier is a rifleman first and we want to get that into their heads.” 

Being a rifleman is a Soldier’s number one priority before anything else no matter their Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). Getting this high quality instruction gives the Soldiers a lot of useful tools to make them better equipped to be effective to the fighting force. 

The classroom training is important to help visualize the methods but getting out to the field is where the Soldiers learn the most. They get to put everything they have been taught and put it onto action. 

“I’m a ‘hands-on’ kind of guy so classrooms aren’t my cup of tea, but once I start getting into it, I liked the practical exercises that they were doing,” said Van Alstine.

From the first day to about day four and five, the instructors started seeing the Soldiers pick up on what is being taught. 

“I think they are a bit overwhelmed,” said Eaton. “It is a lot of information to take in at one time. But I think they are starting to gather and retain it as fast as humanly possible, but you can start to see the light bulbs go off in their heads as they are beginning to comprehend it,” 

Despite the Soldiers not being infantry, the material covered can be taken back and applied to every one of their units. 

“You can take what we learned about operations orders, and translate that into mission planning for building structures; my unit is gong back to emphasizing the importance of infantry skills, the basic Soldiering skills, so it’s starting to incorporate this more into our training so it benefits everybody,” said Van Alstine.  

Although the students won’t become Ranger qualified once they leave the course, they certainly will get exposure to what it would be like if they so chose to go that route in the future and can use it to better themselves as a Soldier and person.

“Our training is primarily to build future team leaders, we take them from knowing nothing about skill level one battle drills, and taking them from that to being able to brief a squad leader operations order and proficiently conduct a squad operation in the field,” said Eaton.

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