TRAINING: Art and Science of Soldiering
Your 4GWAR editor visited Fort Leonard Wood (FLW) in Missouri last week as part of the University of Kansas Journalism School’s “Military Journalist Experience” program.
Seventeen journalists of varying experience with the military took part in briefings and tours over five days at FLW and Fort Leavenworth, one of the most historic U.S. Army posts — and the home of the Command and General Staff College. Fort Leonard Wood is a basic training facility that processes new recruits. It also is home to three of the Army’s schools for military police, combat engineers and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response troops.
The MilJos, as they’re called for short, observed drill instructors explaining the AT-4 anti-tank weapon and the M203 rifle-mounted grenade launcher to soldiers of Alpha Company, 31st Battalion a unit of the 1st Engineers. Alpha Company soldiers had completed their 10-week Basic Combat Training and were now halfway through their Advanced Individual Training as combat engineers and bridge crew members. Bridge crews construct or install all types of conventional and powered bridges from trucks, boats or rafts. They also direct construction of wire entanglements and employ demolition charges.
Combat engineers build fighting positions, defensive obstacles and bridges, conduct target demolition, breaching and mine detection operations. By law, the combat engineer military speciality is not open to female soldiers — along with other ground combat activities such as infantry, armor and Special Forces.
The AT-4 is a single shot, disposable unguided rocket launcher. During their training on the man portable weapon, privates are instructed that if it misfires, they should drop the weapon and break its targeting sights, so it can’t be used against them if recovered by the enemy.
The Military Journalist Experience is part of a larger program called Bridging the Gap: Military and the Media. The program is operated through a partnership among the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at KU and funded by the McCormick Foundation.