FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Command teams from across Fort Jackson took a break from Basic Combat Training to visit two Revolutionary War battlefields to discover what lessons learned from the past apply today.

The staff ride took place Nov. 1-2 near Spartanburg.

Thirty-six commanders and sergeants major visited the King's Mountain National Military Park and Cowpens National Battlefield to walk the grounds, discuss the strategic importance of the battles and learn more about how history can strengthen today's military leaders.

Lt. Col. John Allen, commander, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment can attest to that.
"Prior to this particular staff ride I had no idea how important both South Carolina and these two battles were to the surrender of the British Empire to the Continental Army and our newly formed Republic," Allen said.

The staff ride was facilitated by historians Ricardo Herrera and Chuck Collins from the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The onsite battle studies program specializes in the analysis of battlefield terrain features and on role-playing the key leaders on both sides of the fighting.

For Lt. Col. Kevin Brill, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, studying the characters added to the experience.

"Role playing specific commanders during the staff ride helped give a personal touch for each key leader," he said. "It lends a touch of realism to the battle so many years later. Everyone did his homework, which made this a quality learning experience."

But the staff ride was more than studying history. Collins said the purpose of taking a close look at past wars is to apply lessons learned to the military's current situation and make it better.
The lesson for Allen was about leadership and adaptation.

"The lessons learned during the Revolutionary War are as applicable today as they were 236 years ago. Our leaders were specifically drawn to the lessons learned at both the battle of Cowpens and King's Mountain with regards to terrain and mission analysis, task organization, treatment and care of the civilian populace, leadership and its influences prior to, during and immediately following contact with the enemy as well as strategic communications and its effects on the populace," he said. "I found that this particular event had more relevant application today than the eight previous staff rides I've participated in."