By Staff Sgt. Kelvin RingoldSeptember 12, 2012
Fort Huachuca, AZ. - Clouds missing from the sky expose the hot, unrelenting morning sun. The Soldier's heart begins to beat faster as the anticipatory moment approaches. Sweat starts to trickle down his forehead, and his palms start to get clammy. On the command, "Go!" the moment of truth arrives. Putting all doubts and nervousness aside, the run begins, and he hurdles the first wall. Racing and weaving through the wooden poles in his path, he finally breaks through. He looks up at the massive cargo net he must then climb and grins as he realizes it's going to be a long morning. He knows he wouldn't have it any other way.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade challenged themselves on the morning of Sept. 6 by navigating one of the obstacle courses on Fort Huachuca near the Apache Flats physical training area.
Before beginning the course, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the course and his safety personnel took the Soldiers on a walkthrough of the 16 obstacles they would be using.
"The walkthrough was pretty good because there are a lot of obstacles out there," said Capt. Brian Boundy, rear provisional plans officer-in-charge. "Identifying them early helped as well as knowing the loop you were going to take since there were several different courses you could run through."
One of the benefits of having Soldiers navigate obstacle courses is that it tests their physical conditioning and stamina. This is important since Soldiers can be deployed and put in harm's way at any moment.
The rope climb was probably the most difficult and tiring thing about the obstacle course, said Spc. Chad Weaver, a wheeled vehicle mechanic.
"I need to train on climbing more ropes," said Weaver. The rope climb really was a good eye opener of how much it really works out your arms."
Physical strength and endurance is an important part of every Soldier's physical readiness, but it's not the only part. These obstacle courses also test their mental toughness and resilience.
"It's good watching Soldiers who seem nervous about an activity get through it," said Boundy.
The obstacle course also allows Soldiers to practice skills that they have not had the opportunity to use in a while.
"Probably the most difficult obstacle … was low-crawling under the barb wire," said Boundy. "I do my Army Warrior tasks that are standard every year, but it has been a while since I have done the low-crawl or had a constraint put over me such as barbed wire."
Spc. James Bassett seemed really tentative before the high ladder climb, but swallowed his pride and fear and just went for it. He said he had no problems after he reached the top and proceeded to climb back down with no issues.
Putting the physical and mental aspects aside, the course gives the Soldiers the opportunity to work as one unit. Teamwork has, and will always be, a driving force towards the success of not only the Army, but the military as a whole.
"First time through we did it as a team," said Boundy. "Being the fastest team, I was glad everyone was motivated and was pleasantly surprised that everyone pulled through, watched each other and helped each other out when needed. It helps to give an encouraging word or two along the way."
Working with different people is also a plus during this type of training.
"You got to work with a bunch of different people," said Weaver. "We don't really get to work with each other much [during the normal duty day]. You got to work with people you don't normally get to."
In all aspects of a Soldier's day the Army Values are reflected ,and training on an obstacle course is no different. One Army value seemed to stick out the most.
"[That is] Duty -- because you're given a task to complete an obstacle, you work as a team and you complete the task," said Weaver. "If one person can't do an obstacle, we encourage them to keep going."
After the dust settled on the morning training and all the obstacles had been cleared, it left the Soldiers and those involved with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
"The day went very well," said Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Busic, the brigade maintenance manager. "Nobody got hurt, and everyone had a smile on their face afterwards