RACE to West Point held at Camp Casey

by Sgt. Jessica Nassirian
U.S. Army

CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Over 80 Soldiers assigned to units within the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S Combined Division participated in a Rapid Application Completion Exercise (RACE) to apply for acceptance to the United States Military Academy at West Point, March 4, at Camp Casey, South Korea.

The RACE was developed by Army Maj. Jason Dupuis. As a prior enlisted member of the U.S. Army, Dupuis knew the challenges of applying to West Point while serving as a full-time, active-duty Soldier. After gaining his commission and eventually becoming the Soldier Admissions Officer at West Point, Dupuis set out to aide other enlisted Soldiers in gaining acceptance to the academy.

"I am prior enlisted and I remember how it was a significant effort to get my application completed. I just sat down and looked at the data over the years and saw the blaring problems, the biggest being application completion for Soldiers. With that problem in hand, I set out to fix it. After many ideas, I really got stuck on the Soldier Readiness Processing conducted as a major muscle movement before we go on deployments. From this idea, we branded the acronym RACE (Rapid Application Completion Exercise)", said Dupuis.

Beginning at 6 a.m., the Soldiers, labeled as candidates, took part in the first of three phases of the RACE, the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA). Candidates participated in six events: the basketball throw, pushups, sit ups, shuttle sprint, pullups and a one-mile run.

While maximum scores were briefed to the candidates for each event, the CFA was created to test the overall physical trainability of candidates.

"We're assessing whether or not they're trainable and so we provide a maximum performance score so that they can have a goal to work towards," said Capt. Thomas L. Comer, an S-3 Planner assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who served as the Officer in Charge of the CFA portion of the RACE. "These candidates are here to begin the application process because they can bring the skill set of an enlisted background to the job as an officer."
Once the CFA was completed, the candidates moved on to complete the Department of Defense Medical Evaluation Review Board. Candidates' vision, hearing and overall physical health was examined to ensure that candidates were medically cleared for training.

After completing the initial two areas of the overall application process, the candidates were guided through a computer-based application process by group mentors who were graduates of West Point. Among other requirements, candidates had to complete a statement of why they want to attend the academy.

"I like the idea of [attending] a military academy where I have to focus or lose my chance to commission," said Pfc. Matthew Lyons, a Hebron, IN, native assigned as a Combat Engineer to Bravo Company, 91st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "Leadership means the ability to follow, to look at things from outside of the box and put things in a different perspective to solve a problem. My leadership style would be one that is family-oriented, and focused on fitness and the mission."

While not all of the candidates were able to complete the entire application process, they were able to complete a large portion of it in only one day.

"The purpose of the event was to support soldiers in completing as much of the their packet as possible," said Carolina Rodriguez, a Health Promotion Officer assigned to the Eighth Army Area I Special Staff, who coordinated the community partnership to facilitate the event. "There are a lot of people pitching in to make this happen; I wish the candidates the best."

While the purpose of the RACE to West Point is to get candidates as close to completion of their application as possible, the implications of the future commissioning of the candidates is much broader.

"The officer corps as a whole benefits from different experiences," said Comer. "West Point's approach is that a well-rounded officer corps is important, so what that means is that you need people who had prior enlisted service, people coming straight out of high school, people who have already been in the civilian world, ROTC graduates and OCS graduates."

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