Story and photo by Pvt. Elizabeth K. Raney
Warriors from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are engaging in mental toughness training until May 5 in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom. The training is being conducted by Stephen Robinson, the chief executive officer of The Magis Group, a company that specializes in optimization training for warriors and their Families, and Dan Taslitz, a consultant in the company.
Capt. Todd M. Leeds, an assistant brigade engineer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT, 4th ID, organized the training. Leeds described the Warrior Optimization System as a “training regime that promotes strength, resilience and performance both on and off the battlefield.”
“It draws from sports, martial arts and combat performance methodologies along with recent neuroscience research,” Leeds said.
Col. Randy A. George, commander, 4th BCT, 4th ID, said Soldiers must know how to take control of their stresses and maintain their edge both downrange and at home.
“Besides a couple of special mission units, we’re the first unit in the Army to have the privilege to conduct this training,” George said.
Lt. Col. Thomas E. Munsey, deputy commanding officer, 4th BCT, 4th ID, said the WAROPS trains Soldiers to use the power of their minds and bodies to deal with stresses and maximize their performance.
“Our warriors deserve the best training we can possibly give them; we are fortunate to be the first brigade combat team in the Army to receive this training,” Munsey said.
Robinson said the foundation of WAROPS is a set of skills that support strength and balance in the body, brain and nervous system called BASE: breath control, attention control, simulation and energy management.
Although BASE is the foundation of WAROPS, there are other aspects of this program as well, such as knowledge, brain function, and recovery, he said.
The first to receive this training were the senior enlisted Soldiers including first sergeants and command sergeants major, who were optimistic about the training.
1st Sgt. Leroy Gadson Jr., Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th ID, said the training was a good method to use to help cope with stress.
“This is a tool we must put in place for the newer Soldiers, as well as the Soldiers who have been here for a while to help them cope with stress,” he said.
George said this training will maximize Soldiers’ performance downrange and it will continue to help us at home and in our continued careers.
“This training is about preparing our minds, our most important weapon as a warrior,” George said. “It is important that we understand how the stresses of combat affect both our mind and our body.”
1st Sgt. Jeremiah K. Smith, of Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th ID, said the mental toughness training will help Soldiers both prior to going on a mission and after they get back.
“It’s going to be better for the younger Soldiers because they don’t necessarily know exactly what to do, or how to do it, or how necessarily to cope with a stressful situation out there,” he said.
Smith said if you believe you can do it, you can accomplish anything.
“If you use the training and you actually practice it, and practice it, and practice it, then it will be beneficial,” he said.