BRAGGS, Okla. -- Teamwork: a concept to some, but the vital foundation of success and victory to anyone who has ever worn the U.S. military uniform. From the first day of enlistment until the last bite of the retirement cake, teamwork is fundamental in every facet of military life.
Newly enlisted Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers put teamwork to the test on Saturday when faced with a unique challenge at Camp Gruber Training Center, the Oklahoma National Guard's premier training site near Braggs, Oklahoma.
The Warrior Challenge is an event run by leaders of the Recruit Sustainment Program, a program helping prepare and educate recruits from the time of their enlistment until they receive their first military assignment.
"Active duty Army doesn't have RSP, so that makes our Soldiers more prepared than the rest," said Oklahoma Army National Guard RSP commander, Maj. Sharon Rice, of Mustang, Oklahoma.
Soldiers who recently returned from basic training had a chance to compete in a specific set of events created to test their newly acquired skills, all while engaging in a physically challenging environment.
"Basically the Warrior Challenge is a culmination of everything we are trying to teach them," Rice said.
This competition allows recruits to experience the Army air assault obstacle course, while also using their skills and knowledge learned in basic training. Each station of the competition challenges the Soldiers' strength, inside and out.
Physical strengths are challenged by a 90-foot ladder called the "Confidence Climb", a rope and platform obstacle called "The Tough One", and an upside-down V-structure known as "The Weaver". The Weaver requires Soldiers to climb over one board and under the next. Other obstacles include the belly crawl, the low belly over, the inverted wall, the high step over, the swing stop jump and the six vault.
Intermingled with physical challenges, recruits are also tested on various subjects such as weapons disassembly and assembly, first aid, land navigation, drill and ceremony and general knowledge of the Army.
"They like coming out here and doing the obstacle course," said Sgt. Travon Sargent, of Ardmore, who was a cadre member for the event. "It's going to challenge them mentally and physically."
The Warrior Challenge also promotes encouragement and camaraderie between each Soldier.
"It is a good team-building exercise," Sargent said. "Because you're set up into four-man teams, you can't complete the challenge without taking everyone with you. If one person is struggling in the back, it teaches you to go back and help them finish the course."
While events and obstacles give individual Soldiers the chance to shine in front of their leadership and peers, when each team crosses the finish line, the victory rests on the shoulders of the team itself.
Each Soldier's next destination is their Advanced Individual Training, where they will learn their Military Occupational Specialty. Following AIT, the Soldiers will officially transition from RSP to their respective units, where the necessity of teamwork will be just as important as it was during training.
"If I didn't go through RSP, I think it would've been more of a shock going to basic training," said Pfc. Giovanni Robinson, of Oklahoma City, a participant in the event awaiting Infantry AIT.
The Warrior Challenge is a terrific way to keep the value of working as a team present in the minds of Soldiers as they transition from basic training and AIT.