Military News
3rd ACR builds on pillars of resiliency
By Staff Sgt. Garrett Ralston
Mar 17, 2011 - 5:46:38 PM

Blackanthem Military News
An Airman video calls his son in the computer room of the resiliency center on Contingency Operating Site Kalsu. Communicating with family and friends at home is an important part of maintaining Soldier wellbeing and is a pillar of the resiliency model. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Garrett Ralston
BABIL, Iraq - The Army is placing great emphasis on Soldier resiliency these days. Soldiers in today's Army face tremendous stress as the result of a high operational tempo and the physical and emotional dangers associated with repeated deployments.

In light of these facts, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, while deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, is taking their own approach to developing a concept that emphasizes and highlights Soldier fitness and readiness through its "Rifles Strong" program.

"Our program focuses on having places available where Soldiers can simply decompress here in theater," said Sgt. 1st Class Andre Pettaway, the senior chaplain's assistant and master resiliency trainer, originally from Los Angeles.

The Army defines Comprehensive Soldier Fitness as a structured, long-term assessment and development program to build the resilience of and enhance the performance of every Soldier, Family member and Department of the Army Civilian. Resiliency is the centerpiece of this idea.

The 3rd ACR is implementing this program in a few different ways. It has established a training requirement for some of its leaders, called the Master Resiliency Trainer program, which is conducted in a three-week course at Fort Jackson, S.C. Those trained will then provide the training down to the lowest levels in each of the regiment's subordinate units.

The regiment recently opened the doors of its very own resiliency center on Contingency Operating Site Kalsu. The center is designed to focus on the five pillars of resiliency: physical, emotional, family, spiritual, and social.

In addition to the center on Kalsu, Soldiers have the opportunity to attend the Rifles Strong program. This five to seven day activity brings as many as 12 Soldiers every other week, from around the 3rd ACR footprint, to Kalsu where they begin the program.

"The first day at Kalsu, Soldiers learn about anger management and conflict resolution," said Pettaway. "The Soldiers travel to Victory Base Complex to spend a few days in Freedom Rest."

Soldiers spend their days at Freedom Rest, a program sponsored by United States Forces-Iraq, participating in classes based upon the five pillars of resiliency and enjoying free time to relax their minds.  Ideally, at the end of their trip, Soldiers come away more focused and refreshed, ready to continue the mission.

Back at Kalsu, Soldiers can attend classes provided by the Combat Stress team ranging from anger management, relaxation, and smoking cessation, all of which lean on the emotional and physical pillars.

"We are here to assist the 3rd ACR and enhance their program," said Spc. Luis A. Rosado, a mental health specialist from the 883rd Combat Stress team. "We provide another resource to help the Soldier. If they need our help, we are here for them."

The 3rd ACR has taken the models of existing resiliency programs in theater and adjusted them to make them more accessible to their own Soldiers and to a greater extent, more comprehensive.      

"The existing model of the Army's program seeks to simply make a more resilient Soldier," said Maj. Neil Davids, the 3rd ACR surgeon, and a native of Marlton N.J. "We want Soldiers to remain resilient to any difficulty, whether it be combat or problems at home."

The regiment's newly instituted program is quickly picking up steam. Great measures have been taken to ensure the success of the program with no resource spared in funding or materials. The program is fully functional here in Iraq, and plans are already being made to ensure the same level of care is offered to Soldiers and their families back at Fort Hood, Texas.

"When we return to Fort Hood, the eventual goal is to have one master resiliency trainer in each troop, company, and battery," said Davids. "We want to ensure there are regular opportunities to continue to train on resiliency."


Soldiers compete in a half marathon race on a base in southern Iraq. Maintaining physical health, and promoting competition in a fun environment, increases Soldiers' ability to endure stress in a deployed environment. US Army photo by Spc. Maksim Shchekoturov