On Monday I visited Central Texas to give the keynote at the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. Harker Heights is the little sister to neighboring Killeen, TX. Both of these Bell County communities thrive and prosper while supporting the U.S. Army’s Fort Hood.
Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world and competes with Fort Benning, Georgia as the largest in personnel. It is the home of the III Corps & 1st Cavalry Division. During WWII it became known for its tanks, tracked vehicles, and other heavy equipment, and since that time has played critical roles in the Cold War and Operation Desert Shield. Today Fort Hood continues to be a key staging and training area for soldiers battling in the War on Terror.
The Garrison Command Sergeant Major Donald Felt gave me a windshield tour of the Post and a walking tour of the Resiliency Campus. For those (including me prior to Monday) that aren’t familiar with the Garrison Command I’ve included its Mission:
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hood provides units the installation capabilities, services and a quality of life for the Fort Hood Soldiers, Families and Community commensurate with their service IOT enable Forces to execute expeditionary operations in a time of persistent conflict.
Here are some of the things I learned during my 3 hour tour of Fort Hood:
- Today’s U.S. Army is committed to transforming the experience of its soldiers. What this means is the Army realizes that the quality of each individual soldier’s life (how he experiences his or her job) is of paramount importance to the effectiveness of each Squad (4-10 soldiers), Platoon (3-4 squads), Company (3-4 platoons), Battalion (3-5 companies), Brigade (3 or more battalions), Division (3 brigades), Corps (2-5 divisions), and Field Army (2-5 Corps). See chart.
- The Resiliency Campus is group of educational, physical fitness, and spiritual centers that offer today’s soldier a means to develop his/her character and mental fortitude, to better handle life both personally and professionally.
- Resiliency training is part of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which focuses on the five dimensions of strength: emotional, social, spiritual, family and physical.
- Today’s soldier is much more than a trained combatant. Today’s soldier fighting the War on Terror will require skills that were previously thought to be unnecessary, but are now fully encapsulated and embraced in resiliency training.
- The resiliency program is about 3 years old and still considered to be experimental. My opinion is that it’s a valuable program and fully consistent with my own beliefs in Gumption and the Experience Economy.
- In November 2009, Fort Hood was in the news for a mass shooting in which a gunman killed 13 and wounded 30 others. Sergeant Major Felt pointed out the building in which the incident occurred. (Of course I was curious but didn’t want to ask.) There was nothing to say. I admired the Sergeant Major’s directness and sensitivity.
While visiting the Chapel on the Resiliency Campus, I saw a modern facility with smaller rooms for meditation, council, and reflection. A library had books available that talked of character building, emotional fortitude, and balance within one’s life. Outside the chapel is a reflecting pond and putting green … whatever means one prefers to provide balance in one’s life is available and encouraged.
A former basketball and racquetball facility has been transformed into a gym with strength and flexibility emphasis. A rock-climbing wall is an activity where soldiers can learn trust and inner personal strength against mental fears. A Wii gaming room allows soldiers to experience physical workouts and learn new skills virtually. A massage facility is available to soothe sore muscles and provide mental relaxation.
Finally, a Performance Training Center gives soldiers an opportunity to use training and technologies that allow for peak performance. It teaches soldiers how to react in stressful situations (i.e. breaking down doors) by using simulators. And it teaches soldiers how to bounce back from negative situations and take a proactive view of life, rather than one of victimhood.
Sergeant Major Felt is to be thanked for his 27 years of service first and foremost. Secondly, I was humbled and grateful for my tour of Fort Hood, where I learn first-hand what today’s Army is doing to further the experience of each soldier for the purpose of protecting freedom in our great country.
Much more could be said about the fine men and women I met at Fort Hood … I’ll just say, “Thank you for your service” … Hooah!*
* the Army battle cry referring to or meaning anything and everything except ‘No’.
Its backronym is HUA which means: Heard, Understood and Acknowledged.
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Next Blog Date: October 25, 2010