2nd Lt. Michael Bliss, a student in the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, does a low crawl Wednesday in one of the trenches of the Belly Crawl obstacle.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Aug. 1, 2012) -- More than 140 second lieutenants in B Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, are on their way to becoming the Army's next generation of Infantry leaders. One of the first steps in the journey? An obstacle course featuring cargo nets, logs, ropes, beams and barbed wire.

"For everybody, it's just a good exercise in physical fitness or what we call functional fitness," said Capt. Adam Dotts, senior platoon trainer. "It's the ability to move your body over an obstacle or across the battlefield on rough terrain. So it's a good tool to teach them."

The training was part of the second week of Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course.
Dotts said it was "an introduction."

"It gets them prepared for the more advanced stuff," he said. "They come in … directly from their commissioning source, and then when they leave, they're Infantry officers. We qualify them and certify them, get them ready to lead Infantryman out in the Army."

Later on in the 16-week course, the lieutenants will serve as squad or team leaders and eventually platoon leaders as they conduct several scenario-based exercises. But on Wednesday, their assignment was balancing, climbing, jumping, crawling and contorting their way through a series of structures with names such as Weaver, Wall Hanger and Tarzan. Any obstacle a student failed, he repeated until successful.

Each obstacle presented unique challenges, said 2nd Lt. Samuel Lough, after completing the course.

"Some of them, such as the Tough One and the Tower, look pretty daunting," said Lough, referring to two of the taller obstacles that measure more than 20 feet high. "Your heart rate is up. Our platoon trainers were keeping us active doing exercises intermittently the entire time. It definitely was a tough session."

The West Point graduate said the maneuvering required by the obstacles made for interesting PT but could be applied to real-world scenarios.

"You're encountering situations that otherwise you don't see very often -- except possibly in a combat zone, so learning those techniques is really important," he said. "It was a good morning."

Along with the physical portion of the event, the course also teaches values like perseverance, confidence and teamwork, Dotts said.

And ultimately, he said, it all ties into leadership, which is the goal of the course.

"From day one, we told them, the reason they're here is so they can leave and lead Infantrymen," Dotts said. "The message we want to give them is that every day you need to look at it as (if) your platoon is doing the event. They're all looking to you: how are you going to act? It's easy in a peer group like this with guys your same age and guys your same rank to act like a student, but we want to push them every day to think of themselves as a leader, take on that role of leader. And through the course, they're constantly given the opportunity to show that leadership ability."

The students are scheduled to graduate Nov. 1.

Page last updated Wed August 1st, 2012 at 11:31