Team Leader Academy helps strengthen small unit leadership
Story by CPT Scott Kuhn on 09/16/2019
The training focused on team leaders and those identified as potential team leaders. The participants broke up into their own squads, comprised of two teams of four Soldiers. Squad leaders and team leaders would rotate throughout the week-long course.
First participants received classes on topics ranging from establishing a patrol base to reacting to an ambush. The next day they conducted day and night land navigation, followed by complex situational exercises on Wednesday into Thursday night. The course ended with a competition on Friday where the team leaders executed the lanes with the members of their actual team.
“The main point was to get Soldiers we have identified as being in a position to take the next step and become a team leader to expose them to this and for active team leaders to get them to start thinking tactically and collectively rather than as an individual,” said Sgt. Daniel Corrigan, a squad leader with 1st platoon, Charlie Company and one of the course instructors.
Spc. Danny Kaaihue was one of those identified as an upcoming team leader. He said this training was extremely beneficial to him in many ways.
“I’m new to the unit and I don’t know the Soldiers very well, so this gave me a great opportunity to get to know them and gain more experience,” Kaaihue said. “Some training may be repetitive or predictable but when they put us out there up against an unknown, it kept us on our toes and made me appreciate having those skills to rely on.”
The lane included setting up a patrol base. Once established, they received follow-on orders requiring movement to an objective. When the team leaders reached the checkpoint on the way to the objective they reacted to a near ambush. From there, they continued to the objective where they reacted to a far ambush. The instructors created a complex lane where team leaders would do tasks that perhaps they weren’t used to.
“This was designed where they were thrown into these complex situations where they have that individual battle drill, automatic response, but where they also had to actually think through the problem and make a decision that maybe they weren’t used to,” Corrigan said.
“It was a great opportunity for those of us who are current team leaders to get out there and brush up our skills, learn some new stuff,” said Sgt. Zachary Boyett, team leader with 3rd platoon. “Doing it separate from those on our team helped us gain a better understanding so that when we went and executed lanes with them we had confidence in leading them.”
The weather and terrain played a factor in the training just as much as the enemy and scenarios. From the humid days to the steep and rugged terrain the team leaders were tested daily.
“Being able to train in the actual environment and deal with the terrain was extremely challenging but rewarding,” said Cpl. Trevor Walker, team leader, 2nd platoon. “The land navigation was extremely difficult and much different than what we are used to at Fort Hood.”
Participants agreed that it was a challenging course and one that was beneficial to their growth as team leaders and future squad leaders.
“I definitely learned that there is a time to lead and a time to follow,” Kaaihue said. “There may come a time where you may have to step up to the plate and you have to be ready for that. This course helped me take that next step.”