National Guardsmen tackle Warrior Leaders Course while deployed

Bill Phelan

CAMP AS SALIYAH, Qatar - Missouri National Guardsmen from two deployed units are undergoing the very tough Army Warrior Leader's Course while on a base security mission in the Middle East.

Soldiers of the 2175th Military Police Company, headquartered in Hannibal and the 3175th Chemical Company, based in St. Louis County have endured desert heat and sand storms while taking the two-week course at an undisclosed location in Kuwait. The course is required for any soldier hoping to achieve the rank of staff sergeant or above.

"The Warrior Leader's Course is for soldiers who aspire to become leaders in the Army," explained Command Sgt. Maj. Edward L. Stratton, of Hannibal, senior noncommissioned officer for the 175th Military Police Battalion. "The students spend long days learning about health and fitness, how to lead military formations, how to counsel, mentor and teach fellow soldiers and how to prepare, plan and execute their orders to accomplish a mission. They also cover oral briefings, how to write papers in military format, problem solving, drill and ceremony, small unit combat operations, first aid and risk management."

The course culminates with an exhausting, three-day field exercise in which each student takes turns leading a squad of soldiers through a series of operations to test what they have learned.

"The toughest part of the course is learning a great deal of information in a short period of time," Stratton said. "But students have told me that helps them to process information quickly and make good decisions based on the information they've been given. As a result, students leave the course eager and determined to put their leadership skills to work. It reassures me that our Army is in good hands."

2175th Soldiers who have enrolled in the course include sergeants Anthony E. Forrest, of Moberly; Jared M. Gann, of Warrenton; Joseph E. Minor, of Louisiana; Malcom W. Smith, of Slater and Spc. Matthew C. Sutor, of Hannibal. 3175th Soldiers taking the course include sergeants Cody D. Benefield, of Dexter; Rachel A. Bielitz, and Kevin Carter, Jr., of St. Louis; Christopher K. Etling, of Crystal City; Lana L. Labarbera, of St. Charles; and specialists Koty J. Johnson, of St. Peters and Cerrisa P. Whittier, of St. Ann.

Stratton stresses that the Warrior Leader's Course is only the first of several leadership classes required for soldiers working their way through the noncommissioned officer corps ranks.

"The WLC is the building block that all these other courses build upon," he said.

Capt. Wesley Dickman, a 175th plans officer, said the battalion would continue to send soldiers through the Warrior Leaders Course until the unit returns to Missouri later this year.

The 2175th Military Police Company and the 3175th Chemical Company were among more than 400 Missouri National Guardsmen deployed last summer as part of a base security mission to Qatar, which serves as a central staging and recreation area for U.S. Troops in the region. The 1137th Military Police Company, based in Kennett, and Headquarters Company of the 175th, based in Columbia, are also part of that deployment.

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