Course builds trainees’ confidence, conditioning
By Marie PihulicOctober 2, 2020
FORT SILL, Okla., Oct. 2, 2020 -- When trainees of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery finished two weeks of controlled monitoring, they were rewarded with their first physical challenge course in Basic Combat Training.They marched to the Combat Conditioning Course. They weren’t sure what to expect.Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Henry Rakestraw III asked them, “Who woke up this morning and just wasn’t feeling it today?”Trainees’ hands shot up.“Throughout your time in the military you’re going to have a lot of days where you’re just not going to be into today. You’re not going to want to do anything. Just like y’all I have those days, too,” said Rakestraw. “But I never forget my why. Same for you — never forget your why. On your bad days remember why you came here. Because even on those bad days you’re still going to have good moments. Cherish those good moments. Find your motivation. That will be what carries you through.”The trainees boomed a collective, “Yes, drill sergeant!”The drill sergeants showed them the right and wrong way to maneuver through the 10 different events. Once they were done briefing, the trainees were broken down into their platoons and began the exercises.In BCT, some things are pass/fail events. This is not one of them.“There is no failure. You either push through or you push through,” explained Drill Sergeant (Sgt.) Sha’Neal Jones. “If you can’t fully do the obstacle, we’ll give you another task to do that we know you can complete.”For example, if a trainee could not successfully climb the rope, they were required to do 10 T-pushups and they moved on to the next event.“It’s nonstop. They’re using their endurance and pushing through, finding their heart and working together as a team,” said Jones.After each trainee completed the course, drill sergeants chose the strongest male and female from each platoon.Those trainees ran through the course a second time, fighting for the honor of winning a Combat Conditioning Course streamer, the first of several platoon streamers they could earn during BCT.The trainees swarmed their platoon representatives as they tackled the course again.Slightly trailing behind, they shouted cheers of encouragement until they crossed the finish line.“I think it takes passion. Believing in yourself. If you constantly say I can do this, I can do this, and dig deep you can never go wrong,” said Jones.First platoon earned the first streamer for the cycle and 1st Sgt. Joseph Stalinski, gathered the trainees for the announcement and honor of placing it on their platoon guidon.“Basic training is not designed to be easy, it’s not designed to cater to your needs. It’s designed to cater to the needs of the U.S. Army.“We are going to put you to the test. Just keep moving forward. That’s what the Army is about, that’s what today was all about and that’s what the next nine weeks is all about. Pushing forward, pushing forward. Grabbing that next rung and pulling yourself to the end,” said Stalinski.