By Christina SteinerOctober 18, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., Oct. 18, 2018 -- About 50 statewide senior civilian community, political, and business leaders who are newly elected delegates to the state's Leadership Oklahoma (LOK) organization, met at Fort Sill Oct. 12-14, to participate in their monthly awareness event.
One of 10 activities they'll undergo across the state over the next year, the visit familiarized the leaders with the lives and duties of Army basic combat trainees.
Members of LOK, who must apply and be nominated, participate in educational events with different organizations around the state that teach them about these organizations, and they discuss ways to gain better understandings and solutions of Oklahoma's social, environmental and economic issues.
Typically, topics covered include military issues, tribal government, tourism, criminal justice system, state government, education, economic development, water, immigration, agriculture and energy.
Topics are added and edited over time to cover what is happening in the state. This month, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery hosted the LOK event.
"A lot of what we've done over the last 24 hours is we've put in some local leaders and some state leaders across the state of Oklahoma through an introduction into basic combat training. One of the things that is unique about this is we give them the opportunity to experience the life of some of our newest trainees and some of our newest recruits," said Lt. Col. Elliott Harris, 1-19th FA commander.
"They get to experience what the future of the Army is going through," he explained. "For the past two hours (on Day one) we've been out here learning basic Soldier skills and common tasks, which every Soldier learns as they go through (BCT)," he said. "These skills include medical training lanes, how to load, clear and unload an M249 machine gun, and also how to move as a member of a buddy team under fire. A lot of these individuals don't have military backgrounds, so this experience is something that offers them an ability to gain a perspective of what our Army and our Soldiers are going through."
"We always say that the American public needs to be informed of what we do," Harris said. "The civil-military relationships, it's important that the American public understands what we do. A lot of what they see on TV is what happens in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it's important to know how we train and prepare our Soldiers for that. They'll see from start to finish, from introduction into the Army to all the way how we transition individuals out of the Army, either at retirement or when they choose to transition into civilian world.
Maj. Christopher Stangle, 1-19th FA executive officer, outlined other events that the LOK class underwent, which was a fast, consolidated simulated look into the nine-week life of BCT Soldiers.
They (civilian leaders) spent two nights in BCT barracks, learned how to make an Army bunk bed, received an "Army "101" brief, attended "round robin" training, wore Army Combat Uniforms, ate at a dining facility, did physical readiness training, and attended some field training, he explained. The civilians ate meals with 25 BCT trainees, whereas they could ask questions about training, he said. "This year's focus was 'Life of a Soldier.'"
One of the 52 delegates, Rachael Anderson of Tulsa, who works for a public relations firm, commented:
"A lot of us were intimidated by the process, (and) didn't really know how much we'd be getting into, but we all survived. It's been really cool getting to know the drill sergeants and some of the leadership here. We got breakfast with the Soldiers, getting to hear their stories, why they're here. We've learned a lot," she said. "I think I'll have a lot more respect every time I'm watching a news story about a Soldier. I will feel a lot more honored that they do this for us, our freedom. Maybe I'll get up a little earlier and work out in the morning more often."
Eight drill sergeants from the 1-19th FA. along with officer supervisors, rounded out the weekend event.