Wiesbaden gears up for Warrior Adventure Quest
Installation Management Command-Europe is sponsoring a Warrior Adventure Quest program to allow Soldiers, such as these from the Grafenwoehr, Germany, area, to participate in high-adrenaline activities to ease them back into garrison life after serving in combat. Members of the Army's WAQ office recently visited U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden to train 1st Armored Division Soldiers who will help run the program there.

WIESBADEN, Germany - Hundreds of 1st Armored Division Soldiers recently redeployed to U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden after a serving in Iraq.

Normally, "home" represents safety and comfort. But for some troops, such tranquility translates into boredom, which can lead to restlessness that triggers risky behavior.

Recognizing that potential problems exist for those returning, the Army has stood up a new program designed to ease Soldiers back into a "new normal" while transitioning from combat to the garrison environment.

The program is called Warrior Adventure Quest, and 1st AD members are among the first participants during their "reset," a 40-90 day reintegration window.

To kick start the program here, stateside WAQ trainers instructed 1st AD Soldiers on the benefits of the program - and how the principles of Lifetime Leisure Skill Development can be implemented now and in the future. Those 115 Soldiers will in turn train other division Soldiers.

Once WAQ begins in earnest at USAG Wiesbaden, Soldiers will participate in adrenaline-pumping pursuits such as mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding and paintballing. The idea is for the Soldier to succeed in the activity and then relate that experience to overcoming perceived problems, risks and challenges in their lives, according to Installation Management Command-Europe Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials.

WAQ is built around platoon-level groups and is composed of leadership training, high-adventure activities and what Army officials call a Battlemind After Action Review.

Leadership skills are matured through these activities, allowing Soldiers to build self-confidence and to develop further trust in each other. Participants also learn each other's strengths as well as weaknesses that might require different interventions.

The combination of outdoor recreation and Battlemind - the Army's psychological resiliency building program - leads Soldiers to a "new norm," which allows them to move forward in life, said program officials.

Training instructor Andrew Lopez, from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said Battlemind sets realistic expectations for the Soldier and is useful as a commander's tool. "Really, it's just about personal connections," he said.

He explained that after an activity, the group leader - from the commander to a platoon sergeant - will engage in a Battlemind After Action Review. Lopez said this helps cement trust between the Soldiers, giving them an opportunity to personally learn more about each other. The B-AAR technique model is an integrated operational technique that can be used in future responses to traumatic events, he added.

"Battlemind sets realistic expectations," said Lopez. "It was created by Soldiers; there will be Battlemind training through the life cycle of a Soldier's career."

Overall, WAQ acts as positive behavior reinforcement for Soldiers. They are given the opportunity to re-direct their energies in positive ways, said IMCOM-Europe WAQ program officials. Many times, they said, a Soldier feels invulnerable after returning from combat deployments, increasing the likeliness that they may engage in dangerous behaviors as a way of amplifying the level of adrenaline they have become used to in the combat environment.

Page last updated Fri January 30th, 2009 at 05:31