By Lt. Col. David Cannon and Lt. Col. James Crabtree, Battle Command Training ProgramMarch 11, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is the U.S. Army's latest approach to keeping its members "fit to fight." The Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), the Army's only worldwide Exportable Training Center has partnered with Fort Leavenworth Installation Agencies and MAHC to support its CSF campaign.
The Army's Comprehensive Fitness Program is designed to bring together several agencies, key organizational members and initiatives to address the "Five Dimensions of Strength" which sustain the U.S. Army Soldier: Physical, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual. The Battle Command Training Program has combined all five dimensions of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness together in a BCTP CSF campaign plan designed to keep Soldiers and DACs and their family members fit, resilient, motivated, capable and confident.
The Global Assessment Tool, an online resource, is the first step Soldiers take in determining which dimensions they need to address in their individualized CSF program. Soldiers can voluntarily elect to take the GAT, which is not tracked by the Command nor is part of a Soldiers Official Military record, to determine for themselves what type of help they need or even if they need help. For Soldiers who choose not to take the GAT, or have not done so recently, BCTP approaches Comprehensive Soldier Fitness from a holistic point of view. Spiritual Fitness is one of five parts to this holistic approach.
Spiritual Fitness has been the purview of the Chaplain Corps in the Army from its very beginning. BCTP's chaplain, Lt. Col. (P) Gary Hensley, oversees this part of CSF. In addition, Chaplain Hensley is responsible for family and marriage enrichment seminars held quarterly. He works with Fort Leavenworth post chaplains to conduct couple retreats and other family enrichment activities. This touches on the Family dimension of CSF. Participation in Spiritual Fitness events can conveniently merge with the Social component of CSF.
Maj. Steven Farrell, the BCTP Personnel Officer, is responsible for the Social and Family dimensions of CSF. The Family and Social components are critical in building and sustaining esprit de corps. Maj. Farrell, by maximizing information systems and Social media internal to BCTP, attempts to keep BCTP Soldiers, DACs and families informed of Fort Leavenworth Garrison and local community single Soldier and family-oriented events. According to Maj. Farrell, Social and Family events instill a sense of belonging to the BCTP family who may feel isolated due to the amount of time away from Fort Leavenworth. BCTP's partnership with the Fort Leavenworth Garrison and other tenant organizations has made previously unknown or under-utilized resources available to BCTP Soldiers and families.
Another partnership that has allowed BCTP to contribute to the Fort Leavenworth Community is its support to the Fort Leavenworth Exceptional Family Member Program. Since June of last year BCTP has sponsored EFMP, an organization which reaches out to military families with special needs. BCTP, using volunteers and expertise within the formation, has assisted in organizing and providing resources in support of several EFMP sponsored events. BCTP is proud of its sponsorship of this important program and the support it provides to Fort Leavenworth and surrounding area Soldiers and family members.
Promoting, building and sustaining physically fit Soldiers and DACs is extremely challenging given BCTP's deploy-reunite-deploy mission cycle. Similar to other Combat Training Centers, Soldiers and DACs are constantly preparing for and supporting the training of unit Commanders. Unique to BCTP Soldiers and DACs, they deploy to the training unit's home station and sustain themselves away from home for an average 17 days a month, 9 months out of the year. BCTP has partnered with Munson Army Community Health Center and the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute (APFRI) to assist in improving Soldier and DAC fitness.
The MAHC staff is developing an "On the Road Fitness Program" to help BCTP Soldiers and DACs improve their overall wellness and sustain themselves while away from Fort Leavenworth. The program informs Soldiers and DACs of healthy dietary choices and suggests limited resource fitness programs available to them while away from Fort Leavenworth supporting training exercises. This initiative will expand upon the APFRI assessment and workshops.
Since partnering with APFRI 18 months ago, more than 180 BCTP Soldiers have received an APFRI health assessment. These assessments, coupled with attendance at the APFRI sponsored health and wellness symposiums that are open to Soldiers, DACs and Family Members, have greatly improved fitness across the formation. According to the BCTP SGM, SGM Ramon Hernandez, this initiative is long overdue and will help provide Soldiers and DACs with tools to promote healthy lifestyles and improve fitness while away from home. Essential to improving wellness is building strong and resilient Soldiers, DACs and family members within the Emotional Fitness Dimension.
Emotional Fitness Dimension focuses on promoting and sustaining a positive outlook on life and the emotional stamina and resiliency needed to overcome adversity. Emotional Fitness has been of particular interest to the U.S. Army recently as a means of combating suicide within its ranks. While no one can be trained to be happy or ordered to have a positive outlook, there are means of engaging Soldiers to assess their emotional state. Master Resiliency Trainers are critical to supporting Soldier, DAC and Family Emotional Fitness.
With the support of CAC and TRADOC Senior Leadership, BCTP has received an allocation of 10 Master Resiliency Trainers. A total of six Master Resiliency Trainers have completed training at Victory University in Fort Jackson, S.C., or the course offered at the University of Pennsylvania for Master Resiliency Training. These MRT graduates are providing BCTP with the level of expertise necessary to bring the organization in line with the overall concept. Each Operations Group, with the assistance of the MSTs, is completing Modules 1 and 2 of MRT training. Modules are designed to provide Soldier and DACs the foundational understanding to build and sustain personal and team resiliency.
BCTP's Master Resiliency Trainers have a key role in informing Soldiers and DACs of venues and resources available to assist them with improving their Emotional Fitness. Informing Soldiers and DACs of available resources such as unit-based American Family Counselors and Tricare behavioral health are examples of Emotional Fitness resources available to Soldiers, DACs and family members. MRTs have direct access to the Commander and Operations Group leadership.
Oversight and implementation of the BCTPs CSF program is a leader responsibility. The Commander, Col. Mark E. McKnight, depends on his Chiefs of Operations Groups to tailor resources to promote and improve Comprehensive Soldier Fitness within each of the seven Operations Groups. BCTP leadership continuously provides input to the commander on how to refine and improve the CSF program.
These efforts coupled with the support provided by Fort Leavenworth Garrison, Tenant units and community have been instrumental in establishing BCTPs Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. BCTPs holistic approach to Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is strengthening and maintaining its most important resource: Soldiers, DA Civilians and families.
BCTP is part of the Combined Arms Center-Training (CAC-T), which delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. To learn more about the Battle Command Training Program and CAC-T, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t/.