Hands-on training: ALU course gives officers confidence, courage
February 23, 2012
By Kim Fritz
FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 23, 2012) -- Officer training at the Army Logistics University requires more than books and papers to prepare leaders for the current Army operating environment. Practical exercises give individuals the ability to adapt to any situation and to think and act with confidence - that's where the ALU Modern Army Combatives Program can help them develop.
For the last seven months or so, the ALU MACP has grown and is creating a new excitement among the officers training here.
ALU Chief of Combatives Vincent Miller and Capt. Jeffrey Witherspoon have transformed building 12504 into a gym where they have trained more than 1,200 students in level one combatives.
Miller began his Army career as an infantryman but ended it as an MACP instructor. He designed and built the Fort Carson, Colo., combatives program and served as the director for several years. Miller retired last summer and was soon offered the opportunity to teach officers the skills and techniques he is passionate about.
Witherspoon began training in martial arts as a teenager and continued learning mixed disciplines throughout college. He arrived at ALU after serving as a company commander and volunteered to become a combatives instructor to fill a vacancy in his department. He completed level three combatives and earned his instructor credentials more than a year ago. He is currently Miller's assistant, training students attending the Basic Officer's Leadership Course. Miller instructs the students at the Career Captain's Leadership Course in level one. Recently, nine captains and one major, who are instructors at the ALU, completed a "train the trainer" course where level one was reviewed and level two was taught. Once certified, the instructors will assist Miller and Witherspoon by teaching the BOLC students level one.
Miller said it's important to train combatives so Soldiers and leaders are able to respond to any situation they find themselves in during operations.
"Today's Soldiers cross a full spectrum of offensive, defensive and stability while completing or supporting operations," Miller said. "This tactical range requires fierceness to engage and destroy the enemy in close combat as well as the skills and confidence to control the situation with minimal force. The ALU combatives course instills confidence through tough training that is both physically and mentally challenging."
Witherspoon added that the course will help operations at the combatives gym.
"This course will increase their knowledge and allow them to be better instructors assisting Coach Miller and me," Witherspoon said. "It also keeps training safe by having personnel trained and experienced in both levels one and two to oversee the students as they train."
The MACP is designed from lessons learned and best practices from the field, Miller said.
"It teaches skills for controlling a situation whether a Soldier is standing, moving through a marketplace or in the villages or valleys in Afghanistan. The techniques taught and the training methods have evolved over time but are still based on behaviors every Soldier learns in early training and will carry them through their military career."
Miller and Witherspoon hope to bring a fully integrated training model that encompasses grappling, striking, weapon retention and weapon transition drills to the ALU MACP.
"We would like to train as many students as possible while they are here at Fort Lee," Witherspoon said. That would allow them to arrive at their units with a basic knowledge of combatives. Soldiers are learning level one combatives in basic and advanced individual training. The ALU trains leaders and it's important that they have the same knowledge so they can lead from the front.
In addition to the courses offered to the officers as part of their training, Miller runs after-hours training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. He offers a course of advanced combatives training to all ALU students and cadre.