FORT POLK, La. -- July started like most previous ones here -- 92 degrees and 92 percent relative humidity. A lovely summer day in central Louisiana as noncommissioned officers from 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment gathered for an early-morning challenge at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk obstacle course near Georgia Avenue, July 1.

This was not just a standard physical-training session for participants: Noncommissioned officers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery and Batteries A and B. Intended to build esprit de corps, the event was the brainchild of Command Sgt. Maj. Sheon Alderman, battalion command sergeant major, 5th Bn, 25th FA.

"I want to build cohesion among the junior and senior leaders in the battalion," explained Alderman. "It will help identify weaknesses, and here we can face those weaknesses."

Attack those weaknesses they did. The Red Leg NCOs of 5th Bn, 25th FA assaulted the obstacle course with intensity and fervor. All eight obstacles fell into these leaders' gun sights, and the course never stood a chance to defeat its challengers.

"I really had a good time. I did not think I would make it on all the obstacles, but I did," said Staff Sgt. John Padilla, Btry A. "This was a great event".

At the end of the artillerymen assault, the obstacle course knew what it felt like to be the impact area of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division's Red Legs. The event lasted for two hours; after the dust settled, 5th Bn., 25th FA NCOs seemed a little wiser and a lot stronger.

"Motivation and participation from the entire battalion was excellent," expressed Sgt. Randy Russell. "I cannot wait to do this again. We had a blast"

As battalion NCOs continue to transition from reset into daily duties of preparing artillery Soldiers for future combat, their recent, early morning rendezvous with JRTC and Fort Polk's obstacle course will not likely be forgotten.