News: Physical Training with a twist
Story by Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton
FORT POLK, La. – At around 6 o’clock Army physical training (PT) begins on Fort Polk. There is the standard routine of running, push-ups, and sit-up, and soldiers might even strap on a rucksack and head out along the Fort Polk roadways to build cardiovascular endurance and muscle. Soldiers do this day in and day out, relying on the familiarity of the ordinary.
On August 1, officers in 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade endured a rare change to the standard officer physical fitness training. They were catapulted into a situational PT session. The training challenged not only their bodies but also their minds.
“Regular PT,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Pilgrim, of 46th Engineer Battalion, as he drops his head in exasperation. “I was expecting regular PT. And that was an interesting setting, not what I expected at all, he laughs.”
The field was divided in two categories: company grade officers on one side and field grade officers on the other. Yellow engineer tape lined the center of the 1st MEB field, displaying the obstacle at hand,the simulated river. The challenge was laid and only one team would walk away soaked in victory.
“I like to think of it as dodge ball with a twist,” said Col. Bret Van Camp. “It was fun, educational and the big picture was officers saw how to apply principles of war.”
Col. Van Camp explains the rules for the morning’s activities which included the following: Indirect fire, direct fire, support by fire, and birching an obstacle is the main objective. Soldiers were tasked as medics, fire support, and engineers to name a few. Everyone one played a roll to accomplish the river crossing.
The challenge began as kick balls and dodge balls are launched in the direction of the opposing team. Incoming water balloons were launched and thrown soaking anyone in their path. Medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) is yelled by soldiers caught off guard by the flying objects. They are then hoisted onto the back of another soldier or carried off to the area designated for casualties. Their penance is to continually perform the burpees exercise until the brigade commander calls the cease-fire.
The remaining soldiers must try to maneuver to the planks and set up a bridge for river crossing operations.
The opposing team, friend turned foe, continued attacking in a relentless pursue to slow down and stop progress of crossing the river.
“I was a medic and had to carry soldiers around until I got hit, with a water balloon,” said Pilgrim. “Someone torpedoed me! Who hits a medic?”
Fire support helps suppress fire as the engineer elements build a bridge to cross the river.
The whistle blew and the last ball flies across 1st MEB Field. The remaining water balloons splash onto the grass as the PT session ends.