FORT KNOX Ky.—Cadets from the 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completed the Field Leadership Reaction Course at Fort Knox, Ky., on July 12, 2023. FLRC is an obstacle course designed to challenge and grow the Cadets’ teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills. The course forces the Cadets to work together with their battle buddies to understand one another and the roles that each person takes on the team. “We’re working together as a team, using our squads, who have already been together for the past 13 days,” said Cadet Caleb Kowalewski, Cedarville University, “We’ve had time to connect and build relationships. Now, […]
FORT KNOX Ky.—Cadets from the 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completed the Field Leadership Reaction Course at Fort Knox, Ky., on July 12, 2023.
FLRC is an obstacle course designed to challenge and grow the Cadets’ teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills. The course forces the Cadets to work together with their battle buddies to understand one another and the roles that each person takes on the team.
“We’re working together as a team, using our squads, who have already been together for the past 13 days,” said Cadet Caleb Kowalewski, Cedarville University, “We’ve had time to connect and build relationships. Now, we’re able to put our relationships into action.”
Cadets often form lasting relationships while at Cadet Summer Training, particularly when they must rely on each other for success. During CST, Cadets rotate through various leadership positions, and they are all training to be future Army leaders. There are many elements that a leader must have to build these strong relationships and succeed at both FLRC and CST with a strong squad behind them.
Taking on the role of dispensing information to the team and finalizing an action plan, leaders are responsible for everything that happens to a team.
“As a squad leader, it is my responsibility to lead my squad through each teammate, in order to get across that obstacle,” said Cadet Casaurius Mason, Georgia State University. “So, once I get my briefing from the lane [Officer in Charge]. I then instruct my squad on what we’re doing, and on a crunch-time limit, we need to execute the mission.”
The role of a leader is filled with responsibility. Expected to carry the team with pride and easily make decisions, the leader is an important part of a team’s ability to habitually succeed.
“To me, leadership is being the standard,” said Cadet Donnell Browne, Augusta University. “You’re an example for your peers, superiors, and subordinates to follow. You’re able to be decisive, even in crunch-time or when you have pressure on you.
Communication is key for any mission, experience, or relationship. A leader must be able to effectively convey what they mean to their subordinates, for each person to know what their position is when completing the task, even if there are unexpected occurrences.
“Communication and delegation are great because we need a squad leader who can break down leadership and have people do other tasks to contribute,” Kowalewski said. “One person couldn’t do everything. If you lose that one person who’s doing everything, then nobody’s going to have guidance or direction. If you delegate, having a chain clear line chain of command, then we know how to continue.”
A leader’s ability to communicate contributes to the trust and respect each teammate has for one another as they move forward. Testing Cadets’ communication skills at FLRC helps them understand their teammates’ thinking and abilities as they move to the next stage of CST.
“In less than a week we’re going to head out to the field, so having good communication is going to help with clarity, to know what our mission is the task on hand, and what we’re going to achieve,” Kowalewski said. By watching how we work, it’s just been a good time to bond and just understand people. Each of us knows when to be a leader and when to step up to that position. Each of us knows when we need to take the backseat and be a follower. Each one of us is a good communicator to begin with, so that helps.”
When facing unknown obstacles, such as during FLRC, leaders must be able to adapt to the situation and organize their team in a way that benefits everyone.
“Leadership means looking at the very fine details and utilizing all things you have,” said Cadet Reagann Meyers, Butler University. “You’re only as great as your weakest link, so you need to pay attention to strengths and weaknesses, to make everything cohesive.”
Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their team can allow Cadets to better recognize their role in the squad, so they can better improve and adapt their teamwork capabilities in the future.
“We can see how we work with one another, how coherent we’re with one another, and how we could play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Kowalewski said. “If we see somebody struggling as a leader, we’re willing to help them and support them. When they’re excelling, we know when to step back and follow their orders.”
When a failure occurs or the Cadets do not finish an obstacle in time, it is up to the leader to stay resilient and inspire their teammates to stay united.
“Resilience is being able to persevere,” said Cadet Lauren Surette, University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “When times get rough, you make sure everyone remains cohesive, as a unit, in mindset and in understanding the mission. It’s being able to look at the task objectively and keep going.”
Leaders must be able to face opposition head-on, fail, and continue to fight for their goal. Leaders need to have the capacity to recover quickly from setbacks by relying on their teammates and the relationships they have built previously.
“You need to be able to exceed the standard as well as complete the mission in the face of things not going your way,” Browne said. “Make decisions, remain who you are, be confident, and do what you need to do in the way that you need to.”
Many Cadets from the 7th Regiment Cadets feel as if they have learned many lessons about leadership and what it means to be a leader.
After experiencing FLRC, Surette wanted to give advice to future Cadets regarding building relationships with their platoon, squad, or battle buddies.
“Utilize your time, especially the first five days,” said Surette. “You need to really get to know your platoon and your squad because you’re going to be living, eating, and sleeping with them all day, every day. The closer you guys get the more cohesive and stronger your team will be.”
Similarly, Meyers wanted to give advice to Cadets who may feel unsure about their abilities to succeed at leading.
“Just keep staying positive,” Meyers said. “Everyone’s out of their comfort zone here, so it’s all a new experience. You just got to keep going through with it. It’s worth it.”
Lastly, Kowalewski wanted to share a quote from Winston Churchill with future Cadets that inspired him as a leader.
“‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’”