Warrior Leadership Course comes to Camp Bondsteel
Spc. Desirae Lauinger guards the perimeter while her Warrior Leadership Course classmates plan a patrol during a filed exercise at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Feb. 11.

Soldiers at Camp Bondsteel
recently had the opportunity to go
through the first level of leadership
courses offered by the Army.
Three groups of 54 students each
went through Warrior Leadership
Course, which is designed to
instill confidence and leadership
capabilities in younger troops.
Instructors were brought in from
U.S. Army bases where they teach
the courses full-time.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher
Williams, senior WLC instructor,
said this is the first time these
instructors have taught to deployed
servicemembers, although they
were able to speak to instructors
who had before coming.
"It wasn't so much difficult as
much as it was 'who do I need to
call to get this resource or that one
and what resources are available to
us," Williams said. "Once you're
in the classroom, for the instructors
it's no different. The instructors
have been phenomenal."
Once the resources were lined
up, it was time to get the Soldiers
through the course. During the
two-week period of instruction,
the Soldiers stayed in the barracks
designated for trainees and lived
with their classmates.
Each cycle was split into three
smaller groups so the Soldiers
could function in smaller teams
and have more time to interact with
the instructors. The cycles started
with classroom instruction and
culminated in three days of field
exercises.
Sgt. Jared Klempel, Bismarck,
N.D. works at the Personnel Service
Center at Camp Bondsteel. Klempel
went through WLC in the first
cycle. He said he had planned for
this since before the Kosovo Forces
(KFOR) 12 rotation even began.
"When I heard about it before the
deployment, I wanted to get it out of
the way and move onto other goals
in my National Guard career," he
said.
Klempel wasn't the only one to
plan, although the list of Soldiers
changed over time to reflect interest
in the class and whether or not the
prospective students had met all
prerequisites.
"At Camp Atterbury they had
a list of who was going to attend
and there was an additional list of
alternates," Williams said.
"A large of majority of the Soldiers
who attended the course were not
on the initial list. Most of those
who graduated were not on the
162-Soldier list."
Sgt. Ismael Becerra, Phoenix
Ariz., 160th Finance Det. was one
of those alternates.
"This was an additional opportunity
for me," he said. "One of the greatest
things I've taken out of WLC is the
people I met. In WLC you're actually
working with MPs, the KP unit, MI,
whoever's available - we're all working
together to accomplish a goal and
make sure we graduate together."
That close teamwork allowed the
Soldiers to meet others from Multi-
National Battle Group-East and
work with each other as a team,
from discussing challenges of leadership
during classroom instruction
to moving tactically while training
in the field.
Williams said for the most part,
the classes worked well together to
accomplish common goals.
"Motivation overall was
phenomenal," Williams said. "Each
element was a little different.
Some were a little slow in coming
together. One platoon in particular
was having some struggles, so the
instructor took them up and ran
them through individual movement
techniques right through the mud.
He said if he would have known
that would have been the motivating
factor he would have done that on
day one."
"Training is fun - it needs to be
made fun," he continued. "You've
still got to establish that learning
environment and having some fun
can help establish that."
Becerra said there he took a lot
from the class that he could begin
applying on a day-to-day basis.
"A lot of it is making sure that I
take care of my Soldiers - making
sure I know the regulations, where
to look when they need something,
whether that is uniform wear and
appearance or NCO evaluations."
Klempel said he thought the
training was great experience for
any Soldier and helped everyone
involved become better at what they
do.
"Lessons learned - just being
mindful of your situations and
doing the right things at all times."
"Things that I was taught were
giving proper classes, being more
organized in those classes, Warrior
Tasks such as land navigation and
leading a PT session - basically
showing your Soldiers that you've
got control and them realizing that
you know what you're doing," he
said.
He joked that they didn't realize
it right away with him.
"I messed up a couple times," he
laughed. "That's why we keep on
practicing and everyone gets it in
the end."
Both Becerra and Klempel said
WLC was just the first stop their
careers had in store.
"BNCOC is one of the next
steps I'm already looking at,"
Becerra said. "I'm also planning
on going through the OCS program
after I complete my mechanical
engineering degree."
"I think I'm going to take a break
and then when I get home move
on to BNCOC and later, ANCOC,"
Klempel said.
"WLC was a great experience for
me," Becerra said. "The instructors
were great and put a lot of time
and effort to help us get through.
We had our tough times but we
rolled through those tough times to
graduate together."
In the end all but one of the
students made it through the class,
bringing the completion rate to
nearly 100 percent.
"It was a higher rate than what
we would normally see," Williams
said. "Every once in a while you'll
have a class like that.
"I think that's because the
Soldiers who came to these three
classes met height-weight and
were required to pass the PT test,"
Williams continued. "Therefore we
didn't have health issues and didn't
have people who weren't feeling
good."
Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann,
commanding general of MNBG-E,
said the percentage was outstanding.
"The graduation rate is
phenomenal," Dohrmann said. "I've
always said that with Soldiers, if
you give them the strength and
the resources, they will get the
job done. You are that first line of
leadership now after graduating
from this course."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16