Soldiers earn coveted Combatives Level III certification
July 24, 2013
EDINBURGH, Ind. -- Amid shouts of encouragement, two Soldiers grapple for dominance, willing the other to submit in an honor bout competition recently held during the first Basic Combatives Instructors Course (Level III) certification at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
Taking advantage of the United States Army Combatives School mobile training team, the 157th Infantry Brigade provided the venue to train and certify more than 20 Soldiers from CAJMTC, as well as Soldiers from as far away as West Virginia.
Staff Sgt. James Hanson, chief training instructor of USACS, led the instruction along with 1st Lt. Blain Gellert and Sgt. 1st Class Justin Harris, both trainer/mentors and level IV rated combatives instructors of the 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East.
Upon completion of the four week level III course, graduates may teach levels I and II and certify instructors for level I.
"Week one consists of boxing and boxing defenses. Week two consists of kickboxing and kickboxing defenses. Week three consists of kickboxing and takedowns with takedown defenses, and the fourth week is dedicated to tactics where combatives instructors will cater unit training to mission specific scenarios," explained Hanson.
"Level I and II training is less principle-based training and more technique-based training, whereas in level III and IV training we start having the Soldiers think more outside the box for tactical scenarios," continued Hanson.
Graduates of the level III and level IV combatives course can tailor and manage unit specific training from the infantryman clearing out a room to a military police sergeant handling a combative detainee at a traffic control point.
"We are giving these level III certified Soldiers the foundation and skills to evolve and meet specific unit techniques, tactics and procedures," said Hanson.
The foundation is based on a very intense and physical class using repetition to build muscle memory, explained Gellert.
Each session begins with a challenging, hour-long warm up followed by intense classroom academics and drills, or physically demanding three-hour, round robin matches between all students.
"A lot of people don't understand what it takes, but when you are punching, kicking, and wrestling nonstop for hours on end and if you're not used to that, it's a shock to your body and takes awhile for your body to adapt," said Hanson.
After three weeks of combative concentration, the Soldiers take their skills to the range. There, they demonstrate proficiency in practical scenarios ranging from a patrol through a crowded village to confronting a combative passenger at a traffic check control point to clearing out a room with combative and non-combative encounters.
"We dressed random Soldiers in full-protective gear, but not all who were dressed were actually hostile toward the patrol. The intent is to teach the Soldiers that not every person encountered is going to be combative," said Hanson.
In some situations, during the training scenario, Soldiers encountered a combative villager with a "shock" knife.
"This particular tool emits a small shock when touched. It is not harmful, but it will get your attention. We use this tool to simulate a real threat. No one wants to get zapped, so there is a real effort to disarm the Soldier with the knife," said Gellert.
Despite the bruises and the physical exertion, almost to the point of exhaustion, Soldiers were enthusiastic to share their new skills.
"I learned so much from this course," said Sgt. 1st Class Martin Ferrell, trainer/mentor of the 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East.
"I learned how to integrate levels I and II training and take that knowledge and apply it tactically. But more importantly, I learned how to become a better trainer/mentor. I feel confident I have the tools to introduce the tactical applications to the level I and II Soldiers that will come through my lane," continued Ferrell.
At graduation, more than 20 Soldiers stood proudly, receiving a well-earned certificate and a roar of appreciation from their peers.
The 157th Infantry Brigade trains and mentors Reserve Component units to prepare those forces for deployment and contingency operations by providing realistic and relevant, complex operational environment based training reflecting the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater.