Jim Ruesch, Army Center for Enhanced Performance deputy site manager, speaks to a group of 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) officers about mental strength and ways to condition the mind so that Soldiers can maintain peak performance. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

FORT HOOD, Texas - Imagine that you are a Soldier on the battlefield and you turn to see you best buddy lying dead beside you.

What would you do' Would you freeze or carry out your mission'

15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) officers were asked about such scenarios and much more at Club Hood here, May 20, as part of an officer professional development class given by the Army Center for Enhanced Performance to teach them about mental strength.

The ACEP program shows Soldiers and family members how they can use mental exercises such as guided imagery and goal setting to perform at their peak in any and all aspects of their life.

"Everything you do is a choice," Jim Ruesch, ACEP deputy site manager said.

Ruesch explained that the things people do instinctively or even seemingly automatic emotional responses can be changed through conditioning the mind.

Ruesch also explained that every decision goes through a process, regardless of whether one is aware of it or not. In stressful situations, Soldiers will turn to what they have been conditioned and trained to do.

Ruesch stressed the importance of constantly updating standing operating procedures as new lessons are learned and learning from the mistakes of others.

He also explained the importance of energy management.

"[Energy management is] the energy to overcome adversity when you need it," Ruesch explained.

He explained that on a one hour patrol the Soldier would only have optimal focus for 40 minutes due to fatigue and a mental warm-up time.

He also spoke of the importance of staying calm in stressful situations to avoid fatigue over time.

The officers were taught the importance of using guided imagery by imagining possibilities and going through scenarios in one's mind to a successful conclusion.

Dr. Todd Ryska, ACEP performance enhancement specialist, taught the officers about goal setting and the different kinds of motivation.

He explained that there are two basic kinds of motivation, competitive performance and internal mastery.

Ryska said that it is important to strive to be motivated by mastery instead of competition, as one cannot control others.

"Effective goal setting is a process," he said.

Good goals need to be specifically written, have a plan to achieve them, be personal and meaningful, have social support, and require one to have confidence and dream big.

Achieving goals is a 7 step process according to the ACEP model.

To achieve a goal one must define the dream, know where they are now, decide what they need to develop, make a plan for steady improvement, set and pursue short-term goals, commit one's self completely, and monitor progress.

Soldiers and family members interested in learning more about ACEP and the services they offer may visit building 12020 at the Resiliency Campus on the corner of 31st and Battalion here.

ACEP offers several programs including Performance Education and Team Building, Warrior Transition, Family Readiness, and Academic Enhancement.

Group and individual training sessions are available to teach mental skills and biofeedback. ACEP also has Kinesthetic Room Training that uses America's Army and other technologies to enhance warrior skills.

They even offer an Executive Leader Seminar for senior leaders.

For more information on ACEP call Ruesch at 254-288-4373 or call 254-288-4671 to make an appointment. On the Internet, visit their website at acep.army.mil.

Page last updated Thu May 28th, 2009 at 15:03