By Sgt. 1st Class Brian RhodesJune 18, 2012
FORT EUSTIS, Va. (June 18, 2012) -- The soldiers standing in this physical training formation are all graduates of basic combat training and advanced individual training. Many of them are veterans of at least one combat tour to Iraq or Afghanistan in support of operations there. As the formation continues to train, they realize this is something for which they are unprepared.
The active duty Army and reserve Drill Sergeants of the Year and the AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year conducted a Physical Readiness Training course for soldiers and non-commissioned officers from the 7th Sustainment Brigade, June 4-8.
The first day of training had well over 30 soldiers ready to learn about the Army's new physical training program. After forming up, Staff Sgt. John Heslin, the active duty Drill Sergeant of the Year for 2011, gets in front and explains what these soldiers will be learning over the course of the week.
"We are here to train you in the Army Physical Readiness Training Program so you can take it back to your individual units and train them," said Heslin. "This is not the physical training you are used to; this is not Field Manual 21-20. This program is designed to keep you physically fit, but also prepare you for combat."
Before beginning the first day's training, the team of instructors took a moment to hear what their students thought of PRT and what they knew of it. Most of the soldiers agreed they did not have a firm handle on what PRT was or how to conduct the exercises. What they had learned and seen of PRT, failed to impress them to that point, said Sgt. Bryan Rose, the 97th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sus. Bde.
"With this new program, a lot of the active duty Army soldiers and non-commissioned officers have not been properly trained," said Rose. "When I first started doing Physical Readiness Training, I admit that I did everything incorrectly and, because of that, I didn't see what I could be getting out of it."
The first day was entirely dedicated to learning the proper form for the PRT's "Preparation Drills," the exercises conducted before a training session to loosen the muscles and warm up the soldier's body. The drill sergeants demonstrated the proper way to conduct each exercise, the pace of cadence and gave helpful hints to remember the proper order of exercises. After the demonstrations were complete, each soldier has a chance to get in front of a smaller formation and practice issuing commands.
"Each of these soldiers has an idea of what physical readiness training is," said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Palmer, the Army Reserve Component Drill Sergeant of the Year. "By getting in front of the formation and instructing themselves, they are polishing their skills and perfecting the exercises."
Over the next three days, the warriors and NCOs learned how to properly conduct a variety of drills inherent to PRT including "Four for the Core," a series of exercises designed to build core muscles; "Hip Stability Drills," exercises to build the hip-flexor muscles and aid in running and jumping; "Conditioning Drills," exercises intended to build muscle endurance and strength; "Climbing Drills," where soldiers use a pull-up bar to build upper-body, lower-body and core muscle strength; and "Military Movement Drills," running drills used before long runs or sprint sessions to prepare the leg muscles."
On the final day of training, only 24 of the original group remained for their culminating training event. The soldiers would go through an entire standard session of PRT, instructing each exercise themselves without any assistance from Army cheat sheets or their battle buddies. This would prove challenging.
The soldiers went through the "Preparation Drills," "Four for the Core" and "Conditioning Drills One and Two" masterfully. Students took turns getting in front of the formation to show what they had learned. As the drills took charge of the formation and assembled them, the soldiers thought it was a job well done.
Their training was nowhere near over. The formation ran to a set of pull up bars where every student conducted the "Climbing Drills" before running back to the starting field. A final soldier took control of the formation and led them through cool down to conclude the session.
"What you have learned this week is not even half of the exercises and items covered in Army Physical Readiness Training," said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Gahl, the Army Training Doctrine Command Platoon Sergeant of the Year. "As leaders it is up to you to return to your units, look over the training manuals, learn the rest and teach it to your soldiers."
As the formation fell out, the soldiers were a sight of sweat dripping Army Physical Fitness Uniforms.
"I normally do really well on the Army Physical Fitness Test and after this session I am breathing hard and I feel broken off," said Rose. "It is good to see the Army has developed a program to help soldiers stay physically fit, while preparing them for combat conditions."