BASRA, Iraq - Nine years of persistent conflict have placed Soldiers under a number of stressors as they continue their mission. Physical demands, emotional stress, Family issues, spiritual challenges, and social hurdles can increase the demands of an already-stressful environment.

The Department of the Army is helping Soldiers develop their ability to be resilient and thrive in the face of these stressors with the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, and the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters deployed to Basra, Iraq, is working to improve the resilience of personnel in United States Division-South while they are still operating in a combat zone.

The first "resiliency campus" in southern Iraq was opened on Contingency Operating Base Basra with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 9. The facility is the second resiliency campus in Iraq, the first being opened on Camp Taji two days earlier by the 1st Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade.

The Basra resiliency center was designed to strengthen the 'Five Pillars' of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness for service members from all branches of the military. The pillars of fitness are physical, social, emotional, spiritual and family, each pillar matching a basic need for every person.

Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the U.S. Army Director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, was the guest of honor for the grand opening. She joined Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the 1st Infantry Division commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj Jim Champagne, the 1st Inf. Div. senior noncommissioned officer, to cut the ribbon and pronounce the campus open to service members on Basra.

Brooks said the resiliency centers are a symbol of action taken on the idea of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

"This is just a start," Brooks said. "It really matters most when we apply [Soldier Fitness] internally and we apply it to each person we touch. Then, we will be fit."

This was Brig. Gen. Cornum's first trip to Iraq since she was captured by Iraqi forces and subsequently rescued two weeks later during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. She spoke about the importance of resilience in today's Army.

"We want people who are physically fit, emotionally strong, and this is an opportunity," Cornum said. "So take advantage of it. It's only a building if people use it."

The campus itself is made up of several buildings, each with its own purpose within the scope of CSF. There are internet systems to speak with Family, a bio-feedback room to help gauge stress, a spiritual reading room, a fully-functional gym and cross-fit area for Soldiers to improve their physical strength, and a 'break room' and classroom for Soldiers to continue their education or study on their own.

Cornum said the CSF Program helps Soldiers by allowing them to share experience and improve themselves.

"I think that what Comprehensive Soldier Fitness does is make people better able to face any challenge," Cornum said. "So they're more amicable - they're able to endure mission change without being resentful or being critical.

Brooks challenged leaders to learn and understand the five pillars of CSF so they could assess themselves and their Soldiers.

"This is a milestone, like so many things," Brooks said. "We don't end here, we begin from here."

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