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Future Army NCOs Work Together, Build Cohesion
by U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Truckley
May 24, 2018

Students at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy attending the Basic Leader Course 04-18 conducted an equipment run on Fort Stewart, Georgia, where they worked together to complete the mission by enduring the added weight and stress of the equipment as a unit during March 2018.

The equipment run is the culmination of three different types of runs that are conducted during BLC - with the first run being a squad-level run followed by a terrain run where the students were broken up into ability groups based on their average run times.

The purpose of the run was to build cohesion among the students and their squads by putting them in a stressful situation, requiring them to work together to complete the mission at hand.

There are 128 students in each BLC cycle. Those students are then broken up into four platoons of 32 students and two squads of 16 students.

Students from Basic Leader Course 04-18 at Fort Stewart, Ga., run together coming back from the equipment pickup site during the cycle’s equipment run on March 2, 2018. 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. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division)
Students from Basic Leader Course 04-18 at Fort Stewart, Ga., run together coming back from the equipment pickup site during the cycle’s equipment run on March 2, 2018. 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. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division)
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“The 16-student squads must work as a team to move from point A to point B carrying equipment,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Garcia, BLC chief.
The equipment the students carried included two short logs weighing between 40 to 50 pounds, a litter, two small tires and one large log weighing more than 75 pounds - all while carrying their weapons, fighting load carrier and two canteens filled with water.

“When the students start the run, some of them are overzealous and start out fast, but then you see them realize they need to ban together and utilize teamwork,” Garcia said.

“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 small group leaders, the main instructors that spend day in and day out with the Students during their time at BLC, echoed Garcia’s sentiments.

“The equipment run is great because it adds load carrying equipment to their bodies, it is more what they ought to be looking towards down the road with the combat driven physical fitness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Appledorn, small group leader, 2nd platoon, Noncommissioned Officer Academy, 3rd Infantry Division. “It forces them to think critically and problem solve on how they want to carry the equipment as effectively as they possibly can.”

Spc. Tyree Turnage (left) United States Southern Command and Spc. Deiondra Fernandez (middle), 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, come across the finish line during the equipment run with support from their squad and senior group leader, Staff Sgt. Brian Gougler (right), during Basic Leader Course 04-18 at Fort Stewart, Georgia on March 2, 2018. The equipment run, an event that is part of the Basic Leaders Course, promotes squad level cohesion by Soldiers working together to complete the mission with the added weight and stress of the equipment as a unit rather than individually. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division)
Spc. Tyree Turnage (left) United States Southern Command and Spc. Deiondra Fernandez (middle), 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, come across the finish line during the equipment run with support from their squad and senior group leader, Staff Sgt. Brian Gougler (right), during Basic Leader Course 04-18 at Fort Stewart, Georgia on March 2, 2018. The equipment run, an event that is part of the Basic Leaders Course, promotes squad level cohesion by Soldiers working together to complete the mission with the added weight and stress of the equipment as a unit rather than individually. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division)
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Spc. Ogechukwu Ariwodo, a combat medic specialist assigned to the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division attested to the solidarity the event created between him and members of his squad.

“Initially the equipment run was very daunting. But when we worked together as a team, we motivated each other and used that as a pick-me-up for everyone in our squad to finish the run,” said Ariwodo.
When asked what advice he would give to Soldiers preparing to go to BLC, 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 school and make sure you bring two scoops of ‘hooah,’” Ariwodo said.

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