By Denver Makle, Joint Multinational Training Command Public AffairsMay 24, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Soldier 360, a military leader-development course offered in Europe, provides seasoned noncommissioned officers instruction on the new Army Physical Readiness Training while being supervised by a physical therapist.
"Soldier 360 provides direct, hands-on training in all areas of health and wellness for military leaders," said Col. Mary S. Lopez, director of strategic initiatives for the Bavarian Medical Command. "We develop the NCOs' "muscle memory" and provide them tools to identify, respond, and manage physical, psychological, relationship, marital, and financial challenges with their Soldiers."
"Everything we do is based on research and reflects cutting-edge approaches," she said.
NCOs receive instruction on stress management and resilience, and get extensive training on the new APRT, which is supervised by Dr. Robin Baker, who has a clinical doctorate, and is a licensed physical therapist. Additionally, Baker is an Army spouse, and works as part of the staff because of her expertise.
"Not only does the course teach them to be mentally and emotionally fit, we take the time each day to review different training aspects of the new PRT," said Baker. "The new PRT builds variety into the program, while helping to prevent injury and develop overall functional physical strength."
Lopez said Soldier 360 is a franchise concept.
"We are working on building courses in other communities to show Soldier 360 can be replicated anywhere," said Lopez. "The curriculum uses service providers and medical staff that are available in local programs and services."
Many of the Soldiers have already begun to use the new manuals during unit training.
"My unit is just switching over now, so it is helpful to get a refresher and get instruction from a physical therapist," said Staff Sgt. Phillip B. Caldwell of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. "The workouts are intense."
Caldwell said, his unit is not limited to just one-hour for morning physical training. He said there is a workout plan and from warm-up to cool-down they complete the training, despite the time it takes. Other NCOs said the required conditioning in the PRT might be cut short in the unit environment to accommodate time.
"We've already implemented most of what Doctor Baker taught us," said Sgt. Brandon S. Samples of Battery C, of the 177th Field Artillery Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany. "There are some good things about the PRT. I like the pace, and there are smooth transitions from one exercise to the next, and it doesn't require a lot of time in between."
Samples said he has the ability to influence what they do in PT, so he's glad he attended the course to get the additional information, but he also said that he has the responsibility of using it or it won't make any difference that he had the training.
"I read somewhere that knowledge without use is not knowledge at all," said Samples. "I think a lot of people don't know a lot about the new PRT, and integration will be a slow process."
Staff Sgt. Amy L. Hurst, a student attending the course from Bamberg, Germany, who has deployed twice, and said being away from her leadership position to focus on her own development has made it easier to absorb the knowledge.
"If used properly it's good for adding variety to your everyday physical training sessions," said Hurst, who is the Rear Detachment Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for Company G of the 54th Engineer Battalion. "I am really excited to see the new PT test take effect, because it will better gauge how you will perform downrange.
"Soldier 360 has a far reaching impact," said Lopez. "We have trained 298 Soldiers, but collectively these Soldiers supervise more than 6,000 Soldiers and civilians."
During the first week, the NCOs are removed from day-to-day work and home environments to receive instruction on pain and anger management, stress reduction and the "mindful" use of alcohol. Spouses are integrated during the second week to practice communication skills.