Soldiers train for downrange

Alex Harrington, Story and photo
21st Theater Support Command        
Public Affairs

Nearly 60 Soldiers tested their agility and endurance by braving various obstacles on an assault course at Grafenwöhr’s NCO Academy, Feb. 2.
The one-day training, complete with freezing temperatures, afforded the 1st Cargo Transport Company Soldiers, who are under the 21st Theater Support Command, a chance to hone their individual battle skills before they deploy downrange in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in mid-summer.
“This type of training will prepare the Soldiers for uncertainty when deployed downrange,” 1st CTC Commander Capt. Curtis Johnson said.
***image1***“We train our Soldiers for certainty and educate them for uncertainty,” Captain Johnson said. “When some of these men and women deploy to support operations in Afghanistan, they will face probable situations that will test their abilities and warrior skills.”
He elaborated on the situations each Soldier might face.

“Each one will encounter no front lines and no rear area. There are no secured garrisons or convoys … they will have to think ‘warrior’ first … ‘specialist’ second … and the command is here to make sure they are trained and ready to fight tonight,” he said.
The training also facilitated toward team cohesion added Johnson.
“Our young Soldiers are learning valuable leadership skills during this training by helping others to successfully complete each obstacle; whereby building team cohesion is a very important factor when deployed downrange.”
The assault course, which is approximately a two-mile path in the form of a figure eight, gave the Soldiers a taste of what it might be like downrange.
“Downrange our Soldiers will encounter a lot of different terrain features,” said Captain Johnson. “These guys will be jumping over downed trees, maneuvering over rocks, and climbing out of ditches.”
Captain Johnson said that the assault course was more structured than what the Soldiers would find downrange, however,  “It would build confidence and teamwork in each Soldier,” he said. “The assault course will hone the NCOs’ ability to motivate the lower ranking Soldiers to complete the course, where these abilities will be most valuable in Afghanistan.”
Safety was a great concern during the training for Captain Johnson, especially for this time of year.
“Because of safety concerns, we are only using 11 out of the 18 obstacles,” Captain Johnson said. “We realize that people are our most important resource, and we are committed to protecting them.”
Throughout the day Soldiers ran the course twice, and some even more, enjoying the chance to get out and practice their warrior skills.
“The training was good,” said Private First Class Jason Galfo, 25-year-old San Antonio, Texas, native. He will go downrange this summer.

“I am really looking forward to the experience while deployed downrange,” he said.