By Army National Guard Sgt. Rebekah Malone, Louisiana National GuardDecember 5, 2011
PINEVILLE, La. (11/21/11) -- The Louisiana National Guard trained active duty Soldiers from Fort Polk, along with Guard members and Reservists from throughout the country during the first multi-component Warrior Leader Course at Camp Cook in Ball, La., Nov. 4-18.
On Nov. 18, nearly 160 Soldiers graduated from the course, experiencing a new way of training to coincide with a military where forces are becoming more and more integrated on the battlefield.
Held at the Louisiana National Guard's Regional Training Institute, 1st Noncommissioned Officer Academy Battalion at Camp Cook in Ball, the hard-hitting course combines what each component does separately, in an integrated environment. Hosted by the Louisiana National Guard, the course provided training to active duty, Reserve and Guard Soldiers.
"Everything went picture perfect. It was very smooth," said Army Master Sgt. Mario LeDuc, chief of the noncommissioned officer education system branch. "We set high standards for ourselves so we give higher quality training to the Soldiers."
The Louisiana National Guard's Regional Training Institute has proved it is a top-notch training facility after receiving Academy of Excellence award in 2007 and 2010. This competition is against all training institutes and academies in the military.
"We take an extreme amount of pride in what we do. We don't settle for average," he said.
Army Sgt. Kasi Miller, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said the training has helped both components understand each other better.
"We fight together overseas, so this training provides a lot more cohesion," she said. "There are a lot of stereotypes with the National Guard. We're able to show them that we're all Soldiers, and we fight for the same team."
Not only are the students learning to work together as one team, the instructors are as well.
"It's been an eye-opening experience looking for the same leadership traits. [The National Guard doesn't] slack off on the standard," said Army Sgt. Christy Flores, an active duty Soldier with the Joint Readiness Training Center's NCO academy at Fort Polk. "I have learned a lot. All components work together to accomplish one objective."
Warrior Leader Course is the first course Soldiers attend to learn leadership skills that are required to lead at the squad leader level, an important role on today's battlefield. This is accomplished by simulating real-world missions that require decisive decision making.
"The Warrior Leader Course is the first of four formal noncommissioned leadership courses a future NCO will attend throughout his Army career. It sets the basis for leadership at the sergeant and staff sergeant level as the first formal development of tomorrow's leaders," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. William Migues, commandant of the Guard's NCO Academy.
"This multi-component course was a success. Our goal was for it to be transparent as to who was active component and reserve component for both instructors and students," he said.
The National Guard led multi-component WLC will not be fully implemented until the course is moved to Camp Minden's new Regional Training Institute, which will be built in the second phase of construction of new facilities in north Louisiana. The first phase broke ground Sept. 7 and features the $19 million Armed Forces Reserve Center.