Leadership Gauntlet tests mettle
April 11, 2013
In medieval times a knight would offer a challenge by throwing down his gauntlet, which was his leather or armor plated glove, and tossing it at the feet of another knight.
Col. Timothy Daugherty, 214th Fires Brigade commander, issued a challenge to 131 of his lieutenants, captains and junior warrant officers in the Leadership Gauntlet April 4, at Fort Sill.
"It would have taken me a year to be able to get an audience that size together all at once," said Daugherty. "It was the perfect chance to build brigade cohesion and discuss some important issues that are prevalent today."
The day featured a variety of events, starting off at 4 a.m. and continuing into the early evening.
Like the brave knight of old, Daugherty led the team-building event that confirmed the leaders' mental and physical readiness, and strengthened esprit de corps throughout the brigade.
Teams composed of individuals from across the brigade further enhanced unit cohesion as they tackled training that drew upon the expertise of various field artillery career fields. Interspersed throughout the day, Daugherty personally mentored participants. Those mentoring sessions touched on hot topics such as women in combat and the new officer evaluation report system.
The challenge opened at Ambrosia Springs with pre-combat inventory checks and an Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) in full Army Combat Uniform with running shoes. Having already exerted themselves, the Soldiers then faced the fitness expertise of Jeannie Marshall, a civilian personal trainer, who led them through a 35-exercise routine.
"They were so motivated at the beginning, and though many struggled, they never lost their drive to see it through to the end," she said. "I appreciated their dedication and positive feedback for the program I created especially for this challenge."
Being held out in the field, she relied on body-weight exercises instead of equipment to produce the results she wanted.
"We did continuous circuits of one-minute intervals working the upper and lower body, total body and abdominals in different ways to increase endurance and strength," said Marshall. She added she can present the exercises to other interested brigades.
Next on the agenda, the leaders exercised their gray matter in a 50-question Army basic knowledge written test. Then the platoons moved out on the first of two five-mile ruck marches to conquer the combat obstacle course and complete some weapons familiarization training.
"With the ruck march being a team event, we had to work together," said 2nd Lt. April Wilson, staff officer from the brigade S-2. "We had to build team cohesion from members who do not work with or see each other on a daily basis."
Having tested mind and body, Daugherty challenged the leaders' spirit with another five-mile ruck march back to Ambrosia Springs and the concluding event, the combatives competition.
Throughout the challenge teams were graded on a point system. Missing inspection items deducted points from a team's total, while performance in the APFT, ruck marches, obstacle course and other events added or subtracted points based on a team's outcome.
Daugherty tossed in a wild card that called on each team to nominate one Soldier who could bench press his or her body weight. That Soldier who performed the most repetitions received an addition five points for his or her team's total. 2nd Lt. Jacques Cozart, who weighs 165 pounds, "lifted himself" 30 times nonstop to earned the bonus points.
The colonel said the gauntlet provided him an arena to communicate some of his leadership philosophies and see how his leaders performed under pressure. Concurrently, it gave everyone opportunities to learn different methods of training.
For example, Marshall showed participants physical training exercises that are not included in physical readiness training or general Army physical fitness programs. These routines gave them options to expand their personal physical training sessions and develop greater resiliency.
Wilson said Marshall's exercise routines were especially hard, because they occurred immediately after the APFT.
"The leader gauntlet was a good way to show junior officers and warrant officers ways we could, in turn, show Soldiers that we care about them," she said.
Capt. Adrien Flonnory, 578th Forward Support Company commander, said the leader gauntlet was a perfect example of building cohesion among junior commissioned and warrant officers within the brigade.
"The good thing is you know certain people, certain venues, and once you become a squad it makes you come together as a team," he said. "The event was a group effort to where everyone could get involved a great team-building experience."
Word of Daugherty's gauntlet reached Flonnory while he was stationed at Fort Lee, Va.
"I was told it was going to break me off, which it did," he said. "It was a great challenge, and I wish a lot of our military days could be like this."
The captain added he appreciated Daugherty's leadership and example. Those character traits are something he strives to emulate in his own career and lifestyle.
"I may have to take something like this back to my company," he said, "and once I leave Fort Sill, I will try to push this same event at my next duty station."
For Capt. Christopher Bennett, a brigade logistics officer, focusing on staying motivated helped him through the day's events.
"I had to show a positive attitude to help my teammates successfully complete the gauntlet," he said.
While last year's leader gauntlet operated more from a direct leadership style, Bennett said this year's version purposely drove home the values of team building and esprit de corps.
"Even though we came up short of first by two points, we were all very pleased with our team's performance," said Capt. Charlie Dietz, 214th FiB public affairs officer.
The captain added digital communication exploded after the social hour that wrapped up the gauntlet. Ones and zeroes filled the airwaves as participants texted each other expressing their enjoyment of working together and forging friendships that might prove useful at future brigade activities.
"That's exactly the kind of thing that this event was designed to promote," said Dietz.
Brigade leaders intend to do another gauntlet in September. Photos of the event can be viewed at www.facebook.com/214FiB.
Capt. David Zerzycki, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery and 1st Lt. Eric Horvath, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, engage in the combatives competition during the 214th Fires Brigades' Leadership Gauntlet, April 4 here. Events challenged the leaders' mind, body and spirit.
Col. Timothy Daugherty, 214th Fires Brigade commander, talks with his brigade officer and warrant officer leaders imparting some of his wisdom and philosophy gleaned from his career experiences during the brigade's Leadership Gauntlet, April 4 at Fort Sill.
Grit it out
Capt. Harvey Shaw, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, shows his grit during the 214th Fires Brigade Leadership Gauntlet April 4. Col. Timothy Daugherty, 214th FiB commander, issued the challenge to 131 of his lieutenants, captains and junior warrant officers.