FORT BENNING, Ga. — Just as the sun is coming up on a mild spring morning in Georgia, dozens of Army infantry recruits file off the bus and sprint 100 yards as drill instructors supply ample motivation.
They gather into four platoons and get their first real taste of basic training. Drill instructors teach them formation procedures and quickly correct any mistake. Pushups and leg lifts start popping up all over the place.
The drill instructors actively participate in the physical training as they try to build unit cohesion. This was just the start of an extended morning indoctrination known as the First 100 Yards.
“The benefit of this training is to provide purpose and make sure individuals work together as a team,” said 1st Sgt. Alphonso Johnson, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment first sergeant. “In the infantry world, we don’t want one superstar, we want a bunch of superstars to work together.”
The meaning behind the First 100 Yards dates to World War I, when infantry Soldiers left the protection of the trench and went across the battlefield to engage the enemy.
Just like their infantry Soldier predecessors, these recruits must learn to work with their teammates toward a common goal as they prepare to supply the Joint Force with the trained Soldiers it needs in today’s multi-domain operating environment. That’s why this event was created.
After meeting their leadership and learning the meaning behind the First 100 Yards, the recruits sprinted toward their first challenge, a resupply mission.
Each platoon had to study the arrangement of the items and then transport them to a designated drop zone. The recruits picked up the items and ran as fast as they could as their instructors led the way.
Once they reached the zone, about a half mile away, they placed the supplies back in the same configuration and waited in formation as the competition kicked into full gear.
“I hope they learn something about themselves [today],” Johnson said. “That they can count on each other, and they don’t let each other quit.”
The four platoons then battled against each other in a series of competitions. They went head-to-head in events including a sandbag race, medical-evacuation race, and a tug-of-war, with the recruits and drill instructors working together throughout.
The recruits cheered each other on and worked swiftly to complete each task.
When a platoon lost, they went through corrective physical training to help fuel their competitive spirits.
The 90-minute event isn’t about breaking them down, it’s about building the comradery and teamwork they’ll need as they push through basic training and get to the battlefield. Having ready Soldiers is the Army’s top priority and most important component of the modernization effort.
“This is an all-volunteer force,” Johnson explained. “So, we don’t want to scare you into the Army. We want you to become part of our family.”
The platoons continued to push one another as the temperature began to rise, and the morning wore on. With looks of exhaustion on their faces, they grinded to the finish.
“The experience was breathtaking,” said Spc. Justin Rone, infantry recruit. “I feel totally welcome coming in. It’s very motivating to look forward to [the rest of basic training].”
With the competition over, everyone gathered around for a final demonstration. Gunshot sounds rang out from the nearby tree line as smoke filled the area. Slowly, infantry Soldiers walked out of the woods and through the smoke.
These Soldiers, known as the Hooah squad, are the embodiment of the infantry fire team and are meant to show the recruits what they can become when they finish their training.
“You come as a civilian, but you have an end state,” Johnson said. “After 22 weeks, you can be that Soldier. We want to give them a purpose, not just dream about it.”
Source : U.S. Army