Fort Campbell, KY – 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, “Leader”, 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans”, 101st Airborne Division “Air Assault”, held a two-day training exercise known as the Leader Battalion Platoon Leader Academy for 29 lieutenants here on August 25th and 26th.
The Platoon Leader Academy is a 48-hour, multi-event, team-building exercise. Enduring strenuous events, these lieutenants will learn to manage stress and work as a unified team. It is a new event added to the battalion by Lt. Col. Michael Harrison.
The Platoon Leader Academy began with an obstacle course-based, physical training session. The event’s instructors divided the lieutenants into three teams who raced to complete the challenge. The Soldiers maneuvered over the obstacles, including the Jacobs Ladder, the Tough One, the Belly Over, and the Weaver.
The cadre for the Platoon Leader Academy consists of Capt. Joseph Walker, Capt. John McLeroy, and Capt. Ben Kroll. They were selected due to their experience and expertise.
While the lieutenants were moving through the obstacle course, cadre posed a series of questions about the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program. If the officers answered a question incorrectly or failed to complete an obstacle, their team was penalized with additional physical training exercises to emphasize the importance of the physical and emotional aspects of leadership.
“The rigors of leadership as an U.S. Army Officer allow room for growth and continuous improvement. I believe as you gain more experience, your perspective will change, allowing you to see how you could do things differently or more effective.” Explained the lead instructor, Capt. Joe Walker. “The SHARP obstacle course is extremely challenging but also extremely important. Knowing how to help my Soldiers in these situations is one of the most important things I can do as a leader.”
The next event was classroom-based training on the Profession of Arms, U.S. Army doctrine, and the role and expectations of a platoon leader in the U.S. Army.
Following the classroom training, the lieutenants “rucked up” for foot movements to three checkpoints manned by Fort Campbell’s Ready and Resilient (R2) team to conduct team-building exercises.
Once the teams completed all three team-building exercises, they merged into one platoon-sized element, moved into the wood line, established security of a patrol base, and set priorities of work. The cadre selected a platoon leader and issued an operations order. Under the cover of darkness, the lieutenants planned and executed a platoon-level operation to raid an enemy storage depot.
An intelligence officer for “Leader” Battalion and first time Platoon Leader Academy attendee, 2nd Lt. Clark Tecson said the training was valuable.
“It’s training like this that really brings a team together,” said Tecson, “This academy really emphasized the importance of communicating with each other when the days are long and everyone is tired. I know I can count on any of my peers to go above and beyond to accomplish the mission.”
With the mission complete, UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters flown by 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, flew the lieutenants to The Sabalauski Air Assault School, where they executed one final movement back to their battalion headquarters where their Soldiers were waiting to welcome them back.
The “Leader” Battalion leadership designed the Platoon Leader Academy to foster mutual trust, growth, and esprit de corps among the battalion’s most junior commissioned officers.
“This experience was a great way to bring the “Leader” Battalion lieutenants closer together, before we embark on the tough missions that Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana will bring us,” said 1st Lt.. Michael Pelletiere, “Following the academy, we know we can count on each other when times get tough and know we have a cohesive team that is ready to fight and win.”
The lessons they learned during the academy, they carried with them into their JRTC in September. JRTC, brings real world scenarios in a force on force, month long training environment.
“This battalion is a championship team and the Platoon Leader Academy showed it,” said Tecson, “While JRTC will be challenging, the lieutenants of this battalion are up to the task and are eagerly anticipating their confrontation with the 1st Battalion 509th Infantry Regiment, “Geronimo.”