News: Training Arctic Leaders
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Junior noncommissioned officers from 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division trained on the basics of leadership in a Team Leader Course Oct. 15 to Oct. 19 here.
The course aimed to train the battalion’s current and upcoming Team Leaders in their daily administrative and tactical tasks in order to develop a better trained and more cohesive unit.
The fire team is the basic unit of the infantry, the core of any dismounted maneuver, and the foundation upon which larger operations are built.
In the Army, the position of team leader is where most soldiers get their first chance to prove themselves as capable and competent leaders; ready to take on whatever responsibilities the Army has in store for them.
“Team leader is the toughest job in the Army,” Headquarters Company, 1-24th 1st Sgt. Bryan Fischer said.
They have many of the administrative responsibilities of higher ranking NCOs, but they are still the “boots on the ground” at the lowest level, and have to be as proficient doing paperwork in the office as they are kicking in doors.
“It’s a very challenging position,” Fischer said. “A good team leader has to be a smart, on-the-spot individual, who is able to take initiative in difficult situations and both control, and react to, their surroundings quickly and under pressure.”
An infantry fire team typically has three to five soldiers and it is the team leader’s responsibility to train, mentor and discipline them, as well as ensuring that any personal issues they may have, such as financial, family, or legal problems, are taken care of.
The team leader is usually a soldier’s introduction to the “real” Army after graduation from basic training and arrival at their assigned unit. To a large extent, the team leader can determine a Soldier’s attitude toward everything, from their current unit to their career field to the Army in general, and will have a huge impact on the soldier’s future in the military.
The Team Leader Course consisted of both classroom instruction and practical field exercises, taught and supervised by the battalion’s NCOs.
The classroom topics included counseling, inspections, writing and submitting awards, and other administrative duties.
Other topics included cold weather safety and the proper use and maintenance of arctic-specific equipment, and military theory concerning weapons employment, movement techniques, and battle drills.
The training was put to use during a two-day field exercise in the snow covered woods of Fort Wainwright where the Soldiers set up the arctic tent and arctic stove, conducted tactical movements and MEDEVAC procedures with the akio sled, and the employment of mortars.
“Getting them familiar with the arctic equipment is a big part of this,” C Company, 1-24th Inf. 1st Sgt. Mark Dasch said. “There is a big difference between the way you would move a team or squad through regular terrain, and the way you would move a team through terrain covered with snow in extreme temperatures, especially when pulling the akio sleds. Getting comfortable with this equipment takes time and practice.”
The intent is not just to train the team leaders, but also to prepare them to pass the knowledge and experience on to their teams, strengthening the battalion from the bottom up.
“We’re all out here learning,” Spc. Ryan Steinberg, a team leader with B Company, 1-24th Inf., “learning how to implement our training, how to operate in the extreme cold weather, but ultimately, learning how to be better leaders.”