Basic Camp

Cadets improve team dynamics at Team Development Course

Jordan Clemente works with a team of cadets with Bravo Company at the River Crossing obstacle at the Teamwork Development Course on June 21, 2013. Photo by Rebecca Thompson.

Jordan Clemente works with a team of Cadets with Bravo Company at the River Crossing obstacle at the Team Development Course Friday. Photo by Rebecca Thompson.

By Sydney Callis
Leader’s Training Course

Mere strangers just three days ago, Cadets are faced with building trust and communication with their peers as they encounter their first physical activity at Leader’s Training Course: the Team Development Course.

The Leader’s Training Course is designed to test Cadets physically and mentally. The Team Development Course tests more than that, however. It tests their ability to work as a team.

“Teamwork builds character, and this course teaches Cadets teamwork and to motivate each other to keep going on,” said 2nd Lt. Jerrica Culpepper, a Bravo Company trainer.

Under the shade of the trees surrounding the course, Cadets are briefed about each challenge. They are then given 10 minutes to negotiate a plan to conquer the obstacle and then 30 minutes to execute their plan.

“Bottom line, they aren’t going to negotiate the obstacle in the amount of time we give them,” said Adam Sarver, Bravo Company platoon training officer. “They don’t know that.”

Although successful completion of the activity isn’t what is being graded, Sarver said cadre are watching the Cadets to see their leadership, communication, improvisation and teamwork skills.

“We see whoever is in charge and how they execute their plan, is their plan what the briefed, how they work together as a team, and if something isn’t working, how they adjust, improvise and overcome,” Sarver said.

The course exposes Cadets to a different leadership style than they have previously experienced. Cadets described their civilian leadership roles as having less pressure and being less critical.

“We’re learning the Army’s leadership standards, and we’re learning step-by-step how we need to lead,” said Cadet Jordan Clemente of Weber State University in Utah. “I feel like my leadership was good in the civilian world, but this is a whole different kind of leadership.”

The six events comprising the course simulate events past Army Soldiers have faced. In the Lt. Col. Rudder’s Ascension event, Cadets are faced with getting ammunition and all troops safely over a wall about 7 feet high, so as not to get attacked by dogs.

Cadet Hayden Ballou works with his team to complete the Cliffhanger obstacle at the Teamwork Development Course on June 21, 2013. Photo by Rebecca Thompson.

Cadet Hayden Ballou works with his team to complete the Cliffhanger obstacle at the Teamwork Development Course on Friday, June 21, 2013. Photo by Rebecca Thompson.

Cadet Hayden Ballou, also of Weber State University, was selected to be squad leader for the event. At the end of the 30 minutes, Ballou’s team was only able to get two Cadets and their ammunition over the wall, but failed the simulation because the rest of the Cadets were attacked and couldn’t go on.

Like Clemente, Ballou recognized the difference between Army leadership and the leadership positions he had in civilian life.

“Here, leadership is life or death decisions,” Ballou said. “If you do not rely on your team captains, most of your team can get killed by attack dogs. That’s what killed us.”

Cadets navigate through the six challenges of the Team Development Course early on in their 29 days at Fort Knox. Because of this, Cadets are given the chance to become acquainted and to trust each other. It also allows cadre to see where the Cadets are with their leadership and teamwork aptitude.

“We’re starting to see who is a more vocal leader, who has no problem communicating with others and we’re also identifying who needs to be brought out of their shell a little more, which is why we like to put this course towards the beginning of training,” Sarver said.

The Army places high significance on teamwork, as emphasized in the second line of the Soldier’s Creed, and the Team Development Course accentuates the importance of working together and trusting one another.

“We’re teaching them that we either succeed as a team, or crumble as individuals,” Sarver said. “It takes a team to complete the mission.”

 

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