FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — More than 150 new recruits with Company E, 701st Military Police Battalion, experienced a new approach to reception and integration — the process of receiving and integrating future Soldiers to the Army during Initial Entry Training — Tuesday here.
As they stepped off the bus, the future military police Soldiers were separated into platoons to complete a teambuilding event called Foundry I. Senior drill sergeants led trainees through seven stations representing the Army Values, while other drill sergeants encouraged and corrected them along the way.
According to 2nd Lt. Carlos Paiz, a platoon leader and officer-in-charge of the event, the new practice — which the unit will use moving forward — instills leadership and trust between trainees and cadre, demonstrates teamwork and teaches Army Values through real-life scenarios that test physical and mental endurance.
Events included a ground medical evaluation, the resupply of water, equipment and Meals Ready to Eat, the building of a fighting position with sandbags, and a final cognitive task, where participants built a display using all of the materials collected throughout the course, Paiz said.
One of the most significant contrasts between the “shark attack,” which has been common practice since the Vietnam era, and Foundry I, was cadre participation, Paiz said.
“Completing the events with the drill sergeants shows the trainees they are not alone in this journey,” he said. “Having to come up with a concept where (cadre and trainees) have to work as a team immediately, without knowing each other, teaches trainees that they are here to be part of a bigger team — the Army team.”
This is Staff Sgt. Robert Prieto’s third One Station Unit Training class. As a senior drill sergeant and the NCO in charge of the event, he said he saw a notable difference in how trainees responded.
“They were more willing and eager to work together as a team and encourage each other,” he said. “Some of them are coming right off the couch — coming straight here and having to do air squats, push-ups and mountain climbers can be hard. This event allows their battle buddies to encourage them by rooting them on and telling them they can do it and not to quit.”
It also builds trust in the cadre immediately, he said.
“Participating in the exercises with them shows we are going to lead from the front and by example, and not ask them to do anything we aren’t doing ourselves,” he said.
Trust over fear is essential in a training environment, Paiz said.
“It’s about professional standards, leading by example and then building that trust with the trainees immediately,” he said. “Respect is earned and is more valuable (than fear) because you need respect to build trust; you don’t build trust through fear. There’s no training value, no team building and no leading by example from the drill sergeants during the ‘shark attack.’”
After the event, trainees were given the customary leadership introduction and began their 20-week journey to become Soldiers.
The company will conduct two more Foundry events throughout the cycle.
“Each Foundry event is going to be a little more challenging than the last,” Paiz said. “Each introduces more complexities but fosters the same Army Values and teambuilding.”