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Posted: March 9, 2018 9:54 a.m.
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Future NCOs work together

Sgt. Joseph Truckley/

Students from Basic Leader Course 04-18, run together coming back from the equipment pickup site during the cycle’s equipment run March 2 at Fort Stewart. The equipment run promotes squad-level cohesion that has Soldiers working together to complete the mission by enduring the added weight and stress of the equipment as a unit rather than individually.

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Students at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, attending the Basic Leader Course, conducted an equipment run, March 2, at Fort Stewart. 

The purpose of the run was to build cohesion among the students by requiring them to work together while enduring the stress of added equipment, terrain and conditions to accomplish the mission. 

The Soldiers conducted the four-mile run wearing their combat uniform, boots, fighting load carrier and two canteens filled with water, while maintaining their assigned weapons. 

Eight squads of 16 Soldiers ran two miles  with litters, through rough terrain and knee deep puddles of water, while maintaining accountability of everyone in the team at all times. 

“When the students start the run, some of them are overzealous and start out fast, but then you see them realize they need to band together and utilize teamwork,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Garcia, BLC chief. 

Once the squads reached the two-mile turn-around point, they collected two short logs, weighing between 40 and 50 pounds, two small tires and one large log, weighing more than 75 pounds.  The squads then strategized how to get the equipment back to the starting point as a team.  

“The equipment run is great because it adds load carrying equipment to their bodies,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Appledorn, small group leader from 2nd platoon, Noncommissioned Officer Academy. “It is more what they ought to be looking towards down the road with the combat-driven physical fitness. It forces them to think critically and problem solve on how they want to carry the equipment as effectively as they possibly can.”

Spc. Ogechukwu Ariwodo, a combat medic assigned to the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team attested to the solidarity the event created between the members of his squad.

“Initially, the equipment run was very daunting, but when we worked together as a team,” said Ariwodo. “We motivated everyone in our squad to finish the run.” 

“Comradery is built through misery, and sharing that event together strengthens the bonds of Soldiers in general,” Garcia said. “They face challenges that they need to overcome, which builds that unit cohesion.”

The students conducted two runs to prepare them for the rigors of this event. The first run was squad-level, followed by an ability group terrain run based on their one-mile run times.

When asked what advice he would give to Soldiers preparing to go to this leadership course, Ariwodo said if students talk the talk to make sure they can walk the walk. 

“Bring the motivation, because that will help you get through the difficult parts of the school and make sure you bring two scoops of ‘hooah,’” Ariwodo added.

BLC class 04-18 will conduct their situation training exercise, March 9-12. The squads will be required to apply collective reasoning to solve problems. Once complete with the STX, the class of 127 students will graduate March 15 on Cottrell Field at Fort Stewart, Georgia. 

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