Patriot Brigade takes time to forge resilient warriors

By Chuck Cannon

The motto of Fort Johnson is “Forging the Warrior Spirit.” The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, has taken that motto a step further by forging resilient warriors.

Chaplain (Capt.) Jacob Brooks, 710 Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, said spiritual readiness initiatives — part of the Army’s Spiritual Fitness Training — are chaplain-led, but command-sponsored. The iteration used by 3rd BCT is a blend of spiritual resiliency training and the popular History Channel television show “Forged in Fire.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Greg Ledbetter, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 3/10, started the 3/10 program more than 18 months ago. He reached out to Powel and Sons, a company in nearby Anacoco who own a forge. Thus, was born the Forged in Resiliency initiative.

“We’ve seen good results and great feedback from both soldiers and units,” Brooks said. “Commanders wanted to see it used brigade wide. We have learned that it is good for both new soldiers and career soldiers.”

The three-day program begins with soldiers asked, “Who am I?” Each soldier is given a small plate of steel, each unique in shape and size. The soldiers are then asked, “Where do you come from?”

“We want to know their background, what drives them,” Brooks said. “Then we talk about purpose. Next the soldiers draw a template of the knife they want to build, giving them and their steel purpose.”

On day two, the soldiers are asked to think about how they respond to challenges and adversity in life. That is tied to knife-making by using grinders and adjustments to improve their steel. The process shows the soldiers how they can turn adversity into something that could turn out beautiful or appreciated.

The third day soldiers and mentors discuss how everything comes together to make a knife, and how the soldiers can go back to their units and become part of a trusted team, working together. The day ends with a discussion on how to care for their knife, keep it sharp, and take those principals to their unit and life.

“For me, the real value is it gives Soldiers firsthand opportunities to reflect and learn,” Brooks said. “Every part of the process of building a knife translates back to the idea of being forged as individuals, and across Fort Johnson, forged for war.”

While many people might think of spirituality as religious, Brooks said that’s not always the case.

According to the Army, a soldier’s spirituality can be about following a chosen religion, but it can also mean just being spiritual in their own way. He said Army spirituality considers a soldier’s core values to be what drives the them and gives their life meaning.

“We help them see why that is important and how it helps them to be trusted professionals in the Army,” Brooks said. “United States citizens entrust us with a lot of responsibility with tanks and weapons, and we have to be people of purpose, and have morals and ethics that drive our decision making.”

Spc. David Frazier and his spouse, Pfc. Madison Frazier, both with 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3/10, attended the most recent resiliency training together. For Madison, it was her second time through the course.

“This is amazing,” she said. “The chaplains walk you through each step of the process and lets you know how it relates to the challenges you will face. I was able to translate each step of the knife-making process into my life.”

David agreed, and added he learned a new aspect of spirituality. He said he knew the Army had many field manuals, but never knew spirituality had its own: FM 7-22.

“I always thought that if you were in the Army you had to be a Soldier first, but I’ve learned that Family is just as important,” he said. “This program has brought my wife and I closer.”

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