ARL greening course gives civilians a taste of soldiering

A group of Army Research Laboratory greening course participants gather around a Black Hawk helicopter to learn about helicopter maintenance during the ARL greening course that was held Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 2017. | U.S. Army Photo by Megan Paice, RDECOM

Designed for civilians who want to experience a Soldier’s way of life, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory held a greening course Oct. 30 to Nov. 3.

The five-day course gave participants, mostly Army scientists and engineers, a taste of the Army basic training that transforms a new recruit into a Soldier.

Participants were standing in formation at 0515 hours (5:15 a.m.) for Physical Training, or PT., that included basic marksmanship, a live fire at the firing range and a flight in a Black Hawk helicopter.

“I went looking forward to the opportunity to learn from Soldiers. Unfortunately, I assumed the week would be consumed with classroom-based teaching combined with an occasional physical event,” said Tracie Dean, the ARL platoon sergeant for the week.

“On day one, I was selected to lead 22 civilian employees as a platoon sergeant,” Dean continued. “At that moment, the entire experience became a lot more serious to me. I had a responsibility to lead by example, forcing me to put forth more of an effort than I initially anticipated I would,”

ARL Public Affairs Specialist Tracie Dean, the platoon sergeant for the week, shows off her sergeant first class stripes. | Photo By Megan Paice, RDECOM

Normally, Dean is an ARL public affairs specialist, but as the platoon sergeant she pushed the 22 civilians through the mentally and physically challenging greening course.

Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Martin, Jr., a 24-year veteran in service, led the civilians through PT each morning. He said PT was his favorite activity during the week-long course.

“We challenge them to challenge themselves before they come to this course to make sure they can complete all the obstacles,” Martin said.

Greening course activities mirror those used in basic training.

“This was an opportunity to interact closely with military personnel and understand their work environment,” Dean said. ‘We now have a personal perspective about the challenges faced by a Soldier, some of which are not apparent from our usual limited interactions.”

Martin added that he enjoyed being asked, “You do all this before 0700?”

He said he responded, “Yes, and now we have to make it through the rest of the day. (Soldiers) down in line units do a lot that people don’t see. You are always at PT, a range, an obstacle course; you are always training to fight.”

While each day began with PT, participants also spent time in the classroom where they received basic Army information regarding aviation and flight safety.

“We teach them the basics and it becomes muscle memory because they are doing it every single day,” Martin said. “The difference between Day 1 and Day 5 is the same as basic training Day Zero to graduation. You get to watch them grow into who they can be by the end.”

At graduation, the 23 participants stood at attention, recited the Civilian Creed and sang The Army Song.

“We showed up as 23 individuals with different interests, experiences and backgrounds,” said Dean, “but graduated as a cohesive unit. Every challenge, every obstacle and every test — we overcame as one team.”

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

By Megan Paice, RDECOM