Fort Knox Recon Humvee Exercise
1st. Lt. Peter Arendt (left) and 2nd Lt. Nickolaus Gezzar (top) prepped their humvee for the next portion of the route reconnaissance field exercise, while Spc. Glenn Goya spoke to Capt. Robert Perry.

Reconnaissance-or recon-is the observation of an area or item of military significance, especially troop and equipment deployment, terrain, and weather. The goal of this type of scouting is to obtain information about an area, usually pertaining to an enemy.

Scouting, or reconnaissance, is a vital part of any mission.

The Fort Knox Scout Leaders Course recently underwent some changes in a pilot test to become the Army Reconnaissance Course.

"The SLC was a very, very good program-very popular in the Army, with a lot of good training," said Maj. Brad Nelson incoming ARC course manager. "It was a 21-day course that focused a lot on the tactics, techniques, and procedures of reconnaissance and security.

"Our aim point is not to train those tasks, but to train the skills that we use to accomplish the tasks in any condition along any part of (the) spectrum of conflict. ...We're training very fundamental skills that can (be used successfully) in any environment." This change in training is supported by Gen. Martin Dempsey the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. In a statement issued March 10, he said, "What the nation needs is a balance of capabilities that can be applied by agile leaders when we confront an adaptive enemy. Or, if you prefer, a balance of capabilities that can be applied by adaptive leaders against an agile enemy."

The overall outcome for the Reconnaissance Course is to develop leader attributes through increased understanding and performance of core competencies in order to meet the expectations of combatant commanders during full spectrum operations.

The core competencies that the ARC wants to focus on are:
Problem solving-Teach Soldiers to "learn for themselves" the skills necessary to the success of their mission, within an established framework of knowledge;

Increase intangibles-Develop intangible attributes like confidence, accountability, initiative, judgment, and awareness; reinforce positive character traits;

Increase understanding and awareness-Teach through contextual understanding of the task and its mission application;

Increase deliberate thought-Condition Soldiers to always exercise a deliberate thought process (evaluation, judgment, and decision) while under stress;

Improve combat performance-Condition Soldiers to overcome the psychological and physiological effects, as well as the physical requirements, of combat.

In focusing on those core competencies, the ARC has turned to Outcome Based Training and Education to meet its goals. OBT&E examines the outcome, not the procedure, to arrive at the outcome, explained Nelson.

"The change is training the fundamental skills to apply across all those tasks and in every condition. There are too many variables to train according to a checklist," he said. "(The fundamental skills) can be applied to all missions."

"This is the first time we're putting (information) into a tactical context," said Sgt. 1st Class John Brouillette, an instructor for the ARC. "We're changing the conditions...They're being allowed to take risks with the tasks. The previous methodology was limited."

Ralph Kelly, an instructor with the Scout Leaders Course for the past four years, spoke positively about the ARC changes.

"(Now we) don't just go down a checklist," he said, "We assess the Soldier."

The tools used to measure a Soldier's performance are self-assessments, peer assessments, and cadre assessments. Those allow a Soldier to rate how he believes he performed compared to how his peers and instructors viewed his performance on any given task.

For example, if a Soldier prepared an order well on paper, and yet had difficulty with the verbal presentation of the information, then cadre and peers would assess the order and give the Soldier immediate feedback.

Scott Flanagan, a contract instructor with the Wexford Group has been teaching OBT&E for more than three years.

"Soldiers are extremely receptive to figuring things out on their own," he said. "(They have) experience in combat and (they're) bringing their experiences into the situations."

Capt. Robert Perry, the outgoing course manager for the SLC and ARC, agrees.

"(We're holding) them accountable," Perry said. "...They're taking ownership of their actions and position."

The redesign of the course also required changes in the curriculum. For example, with the SLC, Soldiers spent the majority of the first half of the 21-day course inside a classroom. Then, near the end, the students took the knowledge out to the field for training. The ARC, however, allows for more field time.

"We've increased the field time to 70 percent-10 percent for administrative duties, and 20 percent for classroom instruction," said Perry.

Sgt. 1st Class John Hoffman, a student in the ARC, feels positive about the outcomes-based training.

"It gives you practical experience," said Hoffman. "You learn immediately from your mistakes."

Page last updated Thu May 7th, 2009 at 14:45