FORT STEWART, Ga. - Second Lt. Jared Gray pushed harder and harder in his sweat-soaked physical training uniform, eyes straight ahead and focused on the finish line. This was the last quarter mile of the Army's Physical Fitness Test, and it was just the beginning of the first day of 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division's Leader Certification Course.

Through quizzes, tests, and practical exercises over a five-day course, new leaders in 3-15 Inf. built confidence in their skills and ability to lead soldiers, April 10 through April 14 on Fort Stewart, Ga.

As Gray, an infantryman serving in the 3-15 Inf. operations section, crossed the finish line one of the graders called out "13:30" and confirmed he passed his APFT, finishing a third of his physical grade in the course.

"I have taken dozens of PT tests," said Gray, "but this one is different, this is the unit I will serve in, and my performance in this course will help determine if I am ready to lead a platoon in this battalion."

The feelings Gray has about the course are just what the 3-15 Inf. commander, Lt. Col. Nathan Minami, had in mind when he and his staff created the leader's certification course. "We want to certify that 'Can Do' leaders have the tools, knowledge and ability to be effective leaders in this battalion," said Minami.

"We are simply validating their abilities. These leaders from [sergeant] to [second lieutenant] come from various places all across the scope of the Army and we need to confirm with our own eyes that they meet the Army standard for leaders and have the tools to succeed in the battalion," said Minami.

In addition to physical tests such as the PT test, foot march, and combat water survival, the course also covered a wide range of administrative topics.

"During the course we introduce new leaders in the battalion to our standard operating procedures and unit history and also make sure they are properly trained on resiliency, equal opportunity and SHARP (Sexual Harassment / Assault Response & Prevention)," said 1st Lt. William Bishop, the 3-15 Inf. adjutant and one of the course developers.

The course also develops soldiers professionally, before they take on important positions as leaders in the unit.

"We allow them to complete the [officer in charge/range safety officer] course, give them classes on [evaluations], counseling, hazing, corrective training, and even help them plan ranges and live fires through practical exercises," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Rice, the 3-15 Inf. operations section NCOIC and one of the instructors.

The course also includes an orientation to Fort Stewart training areas and training resources. In addition, new leaders visit key Fort Stewart areas junior leaders use on a regular basis to help their soldiers including Morale Welfare and Recreation, the Wellness Center, and Army Community Services.

"Our classes enable new leaders to feel they have the proper tools necessary to be a solid, functioning leader in our battalion, and that they understand all of the resources available at Fort Stewart to help make their unit successful," said Rice.