Warrior Division, NCO academy provide realistic training for junior leaders
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea – More than 100 Basic Leader Course students enrolled at the 8th Army Wightman Noncommissioned Officers Academy on Camp Jackson, flew by 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-Us Combined Division CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Camp Red Cloud to Rodriguez Live Fire Complex March 6.
For all previous classes, transportation to RLFC was an hour long bus ride from Camp Jackson. Master Sgt. Edward Bowers, BLC chief instructor, organized the flights to give the students an opportunity to practice landing zone operations and basic leadership tasks.
“They fly in, secure the landing zone and conduct troop leading procedures,” said Bowers.
The movement by helicopter to RLFC was the first conducted by a BLC class at Wightman NCO Academy. Bowers said the coordination with 2ID/RUCD for this event will assist in future BLC classes having similar opportunities.
The flights and the situational training exercise lanes to follow later in the week were more extensive than some of the instructors have seen before. Staff Sgt. Jamal Freeman, a BLC instructor, compared other BLC courses to that offered here in Korea.
“It’s a more realistic, battle-focused training here,” said Freeman. “I think it’s a good experience for the young Soldiers who haven’t had a chance to fly in helicopters before, especially the ones who have not deployed.”
Soldiers in the course took advantage of the opportunity afforded to them with the unique addition of the helicopter flights to their training. Cpl. Sean Lucas, a 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division fire support specialist, saw the benefits of this additional training.
“It’s important because not every Soldier gets to do this in their career. A lot of Soldiers have not been on a Chinook or any type of aircraft, except to fly here or to their duty stations,” said Lucas.
The flights and the STX lanes that followed are the last training events for the Soldiers prior to their graduation from BLC. For Spc. Cody Waldren, assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 304th Expeditionary Signal Brigade, 8th Army, this was the payoff to four weeks of classroom training at the academy.
“I’m looking forward to the STX lanes,” said Waldren. “I know some Soldiers who have gone through BLC training [at other locations] and I don’t think it’s nearly as exciting.”
BLC is the first step in the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. BLC trains prospective sergeants in basic leadership skills, NCO duties, responsibilities and authority, and how to conduct realistic, performance-oriented training. The course produces competent junior NCOs who are qualified lead, train and mentor enlisted Soldiers.
In addition to the academy's mission to train prospective and newly promoted sergeants, they also train Republic of Korea personnel to augment U.S. Army units with ROK Army Soldiers in order to increase the ROK/US combined defense capability on the Korean peninsula, during war and peacetime.