Soldiers challenge fear on obstacles
September 18, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 18, 2013) -- As Infantry Soldiers faced week eight of one station unit training on Sand Hill's Confidence Course, the mission was to defeat their biggest enemy -- fear.
Members of B Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, relied on team work and adrenaline to guide them through several obstacles on Saturday, such as scaling the Confidence Climb, helping each other accomplish the Skyscraper, tackling the ladders and ropes of the Tough One and climbing backward across the Inverted Rope Descent.
Traditionally held in the first or second week of the training cycle, company commander Capt. Randy Blades said the Confidence Course was moved to weeks seven through nine, or the White Phase, because of the increased use of upper-body strength.
"We train civilians in a 14-week OSUT cycle and at the end we have high quality Infantrymen who are ready to go wherever in the world," Blades said. "We also try to prepare our drill sergeants and make sure that at the end of the two years they spend here they're ready to go back to the force and succeed."
Unit leaders said the trainees previously went through three weeks of student leadership and became qualified with weapons and hand grenades. By the eighth week, they steadily improved from 30 percent to 90 percent of Soldiers passing physical training.
"The obstacles look difficult and there's a high level of perceived risk," Blades said. "We emphasize to them that they're warriors and members of a team and they can accomplish things they didn't think they could."
Standing by each group of Soldiers are drill sergeants with varied years of experience and a common mission to ensure that every trainee accomplishes the task effectively.
"About 220 Soldiers hit these obstacle courses. Some are going to do it with ease, some are going to be a little hesitant, but they're going to do it," said Staff Sgt. Chalad Holmes, drill sergeant for B. Co. "Some might need a little more coaching than others. At the end of the day, they're all going to have smiles on their faces and they'll be on cloud nine."
Holmes, who has been a drill sergeant for two months, said he demonstrates each obstacle to Soldiers to show the proper way to execute them.
"I've been in the military for 12 years so I'm obviously more advanced than the basic training Soldier," he said. "I have to slow down, get out of platoon sergeant, squad leader mind frame and think baby steps and how I started."
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Johnson, who has been a drill sergeant for more than a year, said watching each trainee overcome their fears and take on challenging tasks with a Soldier mindset is a rewarding experience.
"They're gaining confidence after every training event -- something that they've never done before," Johnson said. "They're learning from their mistakes and achieving the tasks -- that's going to build their confidence. The biggest thing that motivates me is watching these Soldiers succeed."