By T. Anthony BellJanuary 17, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 17, 2013) -- Roughly 80 second lieutenants assigned to the Army Logistics University participated in a unique end-of-course training event designed to provide them with a varied learning experience in a tactical environment.
The training took place Jan. 7-9 at the Fort Lee range complex located off of River Road.
The basic officer leader course students were part of a pilot training event -- called the Basic Officer Leader Department Field Training Exercise -- that aspires to provide them with a more concentrated opportunity to exercise and develop leadership skills, said Rory O'Brien, supervisory training specialist, BOLC Tactics, ALU.
"The intent of the pilot is to provide each lieutenant a valuable, meaningful leadership experience," he said, "whether it was being in charge of an entire platoon or playing the role of a platoon sergeant or vehicle commander."
For the participants, BOLDFTX was held in lieu of the Sustainment Warrior Field Training Exercise, a larger end-of-course training event regularly held at Fort A.P. Hill for BOLC students. During SWFTX, quartermaster, transportation and ordnance officers perform tasks while assigned as a platoon leader or staff officer in a multi-echelon exercise that includes AIT students.
The BOLDFTX approach to completing BOLC training objectives is comparatively different than that of the SWFTX. Firstly, the lieutenants take on the duties and responsibilities of junior Soldiers and noncommissioned officers, providing them with multiple opportunities to learn about the mission from a different perspective. Second, the entire exercise was conducted amongst their peers only. The latter is a critical factor in the viability of the exercise, said O'Brien.
"We think the benefit of conducting a peer-to-peer exercise is that it allows them to not only learn lessons from their own actions during the missions but also to learn from the mistakes and actions of their peers," said O'Brien. "And that, of course, comes out through after action reviews and evaluations."
The scenario-driven missions conducted during the exercise varied from those involving convoys to reacting to an ambush. On Jan. 9, students had to recover a body within a village. It tested their ability to complete the mission despite an atmosphere of chaos and resistance. Second Lt. Gurnie Purnell, who participated in the recovery, said afterward the training seemed to be focused on all the parts of the mission and how they're interconnected.
"It was geared toward our development, our decision-making and our ability to cooperate with our team members," said the Delaware native. "Overall, it was a good experience."
Purnell, a quartermaster student, said many of his fellow officers were challenged not in making plans for the various missions, something they would do under normal circumstances, but actually carrying them out.
"It's easy to sit back while making your plans," he said, "but to go out on convoys to execute is a different thing; you actually have to implement your plans, use communication and see other parts of the battlefield."
Second Lt. Rodrick Polk, also a quartermaster, said he was challenged by the opportunities to make decisions under stressful conditions.
"It taught me that you had to be quick on your feet," said the San Antonio native. "That was the most beneficial part of the training for me."
O'Brien said an after-action review conducted Friday revealed the training is on the right track.
"My personal assessment of the training is that we put together an exercise that addresses the learning objectives for all three logistics branches," he said. "We have a few tweaks to make to the exercise in order to fine tune it, but overall it was a great first run."
A second exercise under the pilot program is scheduled for the end of the month.