News: Battle PT keeps Soldiers Battle Ready
Story by Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD, Afghanistan — As dawn began to break on the horizon, more than a dozen support and personnel Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment found themselves out from their desks and in full "battle rattle," on a dirt track at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Sept. 4.
Complete with body armor and combat boots, these Soldiers were part of what Maj. Korey Brown, 1-12 IN executive officer, likes to call, "Team building."
"The purpose of this morning's alternative physical training was for team building, cohesion, endurance and to develop Soldier skills," said Brown, a Gloversville, N.Y., native. "Regardless of branch or position, Soldiers may find themselves in a situation where basic Soldier skills are needed. These are not front lines anymore and administrative and communications Soldiers can find themselves in a fight with the enemy."
Before the Soldiers began their PT session, Brown read a Medal of Honor citation about Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission in June of 2005. While being shot at repeatedly, Murphy calmly provided his unit's location and requested immediate support for his element. As he was calling for air support, Murphy was mortally wounded. Brown hoped reading this example of heroism in the field would provide motivation for the Soldiers to push through the hour-long battle workout he had planned for them.
As Soldiers began to jog around the 2.4 mile perimeter, Brown announced to the group that one of the Soldiers had sustained a simulated injury -- one that required the Soldiers to put the casualty on a litter and continue their run.
"I thought the guy was going to fall" said Sgt. Tracey Fenner, 1-12 IN Chaplain's assistant from Denver, Colo. "I loved the PT, not a bad workout at all."
Throughout the run, various Soldiers became casualties, requiring quick thinking and self-aid and buddy care to be provided before the run could continue.
As Soldiers rounded a corner of the perimeter, they were greeted by a brown five-gallon water jug, which Brown needed them to transport to the finish line. In addition, a box of .50 caliber ammunition was also picked up on the route, forcing Soldiers to rotate the additional supplies amongst themselves throughout the run. Additionally, Soldiers were under constant "sniper fire," and had to maintain a 360 security perimeter at all times.
Although Brown was there to oversee the "Battle PT" session, he put junior Soldiers in charge to keep control of the squad.
"I placed the young Soldiers in charge to help develop their skills as future NCOs," said Brown, who learned as a young NCO in the 82nd Airborne the importance of building a cohesive team and enduring hardship to pull the team together.
Cpl. Ronald Tarasiewicz appreciated being able to lead the squad and found it to be a good refresher for him.
"Battle PT is great for refreshing basic combat leadership, movements, and working together as a team without failure as an option," said Tarasiewicz, a Chicago, IL, native. "It is a physical requirement to stay in shape, specifically in Afghanistan, due to the extreme heat and self exhaustion caused by daily operations in a combat environment."
As the Soldiers reached the halfway mark, they set the litter and supplies in a waiting ambulance. Just as the Soldiers thought they were going to continue their run, Brown simulated the ambulance breaking down, forcing the Soldiers to push it the next half mile.
As the ambulance came to a rest at the "repair station," Brown began quizzing the visibly worn out Soldiers on general Army trivia. For each wrong answer, fifteen push-ups were required.
"Basic Soldier knowledge is key," said Brown. "I ask those questions to generate a self assessment and for a Soldier to ask themselves, 'Wow, I should know this,' and to motivate them to broaden their situational awareness."
As the trivia session ended, and with the end in sight, Soldiers regrouped and sprinted to the finish line, where they eagerly tore off their body armor. Brown commended them on their teamwork and announced a 10-minute soccer game would finish out their hour-long PT session.
The catch? The losing team would be required to return the remaining supplies: litter, ammo and water jug.
True to the finish, the game ended in a tie, resulting in the entire squad helping return the supplies. For Brown, the Battle PT was an overall success.
"I hope they get a sense of pride in doing a good job and realize that even when you think you cannot do more, you can," he said. "I also hope they gain a bit of soreness and a self assessment on whether or not they are 'combat ready.'"