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Posted: May 19, 2017 11:54 a.m.

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Soldiers vs commandant in Commandant Challenge

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A Soldier pulls 125 pounds for 50-meters and back as part of the Commandant Challenge May 12, at the Fort Stewart Noncommissioned Officer Academy. The Commandant Challenge is a 1.8-mile circuit with 16 exercise stations based on the Soldier athlete initiative.

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As the Noncommissioned Officer Academy comes a step closer to graduating leaders from the Basic Leaders Course, the Soldiers final challenge as a platoon is to find out which platoon is the best by competing May 11 at Fort Stewart.

The Commandant Challenge is a one-point-eight-mile circuit with 16 exercise stations based on the Soldier athlete initiative. The initiative emphasizes physical readiness, performance nutrition and injury prevention to better prepare Soldiers for strenuous training and the difficulty of the battlefield.

Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan S. Kernen, the commandant, shares what the commandant challenge means to him and why he chose a non-traditional approach to the curriculum.

“After being re-assigned to the position of commandant, the traditional approach to the commandant challenge was to do a four-mile run, and the results made me want to do something that will make more of an impact on the leaders here,” Kernen said.

“The idea came from my experience as a battalion command sergeant major and the Soldier athlete initiative to create a challenge for all the leaders in the NCOA.”

Soldiers learn so many things in the Basic Leader Course and are challenge every day to give their best. The academy prides themselves in making the leaders the best they possibly can be. Most of the Soldiers come into the academy with an average of 220 annual physical fitness training score, and by the end of the course the Soldiers' PT scores increase by 15 to 20 points.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Lumpiesz, a senior group leader for the academy, shares some of the changes he has noticed as a SGL and what he hopes the leaders take back from their time in the academy.

“I have seen a lot of changes within the year and a half as an SGL, but the most significant thing that stuck out is physical training,” Lumpiesz said. “The Soldiers come in with little experience and we shape them to where most come back to say that they are going to implement what they learned and bring it back to their units.”

These leaders have been forged in the fiery furnace of the academy and have come out molded, shaped and sharpened to perform the duties require of them, said Spc. Tyler Brooks, a student attending the academy.

Brooks, a mortarman for 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, reflected on the commandant challenge and what he will take back to his unit from the academy.

“The physical training was challenging but you kept pushing yourself because you didn’t want to let the team down,” Brooks said. “Our strategy as a platoon was to make sure we all made it together.”

The result of the commandant challenge left Brooks’ platoon victorious.

“The commandant challenge was rough but it is an experience I will never forget,” Brooks said.


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