News: Ironhorse soldiers learn applicable leadership, mental skills
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – To improve mental skills and performance, mid-level leaders read through informational packets, observe presentations, interact in a working-group environment and conduct bio-feedback exercises.
Noncommissioned officers and officers, assigned to the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participate in a Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and Family Leadership Development Course April 1 to 5 at the CSF2 Training Facility here.
“This 40-hour course is conducted at Fort Hood’s CSF2 Training Center and is designed to provide junior leaders with performance enhancing mental skills,” said Saledo, Texas, native, retired Lt. Col. Carl Womack, the CSF2 Site Manager for Fort Hood. “The intent of the course is that these leaders are not only able to incorporate these skills into their own personal and professional lives, but they also learn how to deliberately leverage these skills to develop high performing squads, platoons, and companies.”
The LDC utilizes the Performance Enhancement Model and the Applied Performance Plan. The PEM is taken from the U.S. Military Academy’s Center for Enhanced Performance and teaches the six fundamentals: mental skills, building confidence, attention control, energy management, goal setting, and imagery. The PEM provides the theory and understanding of the skills while the APP teaches how to apply the six mental skills for better performance.
The course is taught to mid-level leaders so they can add to leadership skills already in use and have a better understanding and appreciation for the mental skills taught, said Daniel Abroms, the Lead Master Resilience Performance Expert at the CSF2 facility.
He also said these skills are taught so the individual can enhance their effectiveness as a leader and also be able to impact and enhance their unit’s effectiveness upon completion of the five-day course.
Abroms explained the course stresses the use of six fundamental skills in PEM in order to successfully perform a task regardless of conditions, because only the conditions change, not the task.
Abroms used the example of the ability to overcome pressure.
“So when you are about to perform; how do you prevent choking? What we are doing is helping (the individual) gain more awareness and self-regulation,” Abroms said.
Abroms stated the regulation includes thoughts, emotions and physiological responses the body experiences prior to performance, or pressure. The LDC teaches how to use skills to control those responses in order to put oneself in a position for success and produce desired results.
When asked about which skill was the most important, Abroms said “although we talk about these modules and these skills as individual lessons, they all work simultaneously together.”
Throughout the course and after each block of instruction, leaders will practice using the new skill in individual and group activities. During the activities, leaders work with one another in a sort of live-peer-feedback in order work out which skill is better used at any point during the planning process.
One leader, who attended the course, said it aids him in self-awareness.
“It’s given me a lot of different techniques to accurately see where I am as far as my leadership style,” said Christiansburg, Va., native, 1st. Lt. Johnathon Horst, a quartermaster officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st “Centurion” Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Ironhorse Brigade.
Horst said the energy management and confidence building classes were important to him because he said they are pivotal in how someone reacts given a situation.
Horst also said he would recommend this class to fellow leaders on a quarterly basis because it offers a better understanding of the aspects of training other than the physical ones.
The course is designed for autonomy, meaning instead from having to follow a rigid set of steps in one-two-three order, any skill can be used at any point at any time, Abroms said.
“The uniqueness here is this applies to any tasks that are measurable and virtually everything we do in the Army is a measurable task,” Womack said.
Womack further explained that the skills can be applied to just about every tactical and technical task in the military from raising physical fitness scores to tank gunneries and even promotion board preparation.
Using the skills learned as an individual is great but being able to use the skills to improve the organization and incorporate it in individual leadership styles, to improve things like current standard operating procedures and room clearing, is even better, Womack said.
Laurel, Md., native, Sgt. 1st Class Rachel Werts, an intelligence NCO assigned to the Military Intelligence Company of the Centurion Battalion and LDC attendee, said the class helped her improve her overall soldier skills, for instance; mental focus, training focus, attention control and proper breathing techniques.
Werts agrees with Horst that the building confidence class is important because it aids junior leaders get the confidence they need or want for their current or next level of leadership.
Werts said she hopes to be a better leader once she completes the course because being a better leader makes soldiers better leaders as well as productive members of society upon leaving the military.
As far as implementing training for fellow and future leaders, Werts said this type of training should be done annually as a form of checks and balances.
It’s a way for you to check yourself as a leader and adjust your azimuth, Werts stated.
“As leaders, we’re getting this training to re-engage the thought process, we’re getting this training to step back and actually visualize what we need to do before we do it so we’re not jumping and making hasty decisions,” Werts said.
Abroms said he hopes the leaders come out of the class with a better appreciation for the incorporation of the PEM and APP skills in the individual, collective, technical and tactical tasks. He said he also wants to leaders to know they can also reach back to the CSF2 facility for further training and training aids.
“Bottom line; I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t want to get better at what they do,” said Abroms. “I mean this is what this course is designed to do, is to help individuals realize their full performance.”