By Amanda Sullivan
Public Affairs Office volunteer

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Nov. 21, 2018) — Trainees headed to Fort Leonard Wood will face increased challenges and standards under a newly implemented Program of Instruction. As of Sept. 17, basic combat training companies at Fort Leonard Wood began the gradual transition to the new POI which is designed to improve physical fitness, mental readiness and discipline.

According to officials, incoming trainees should expect a more rigorous and challenging training experience.

“A few of the changes include refining Soldier skills such as qualifying with backup iron sights and optics, a new fire and movement course, and increasing the amount of combatives,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Somerlot, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G33 noncommissioned office in charge. “There is no change to the length of basic combat training; however, there are 13 changes across the seven competencies. Fitness levels will also increase as trainees are held to a higher Army physical fitness test standard and the trainees will increase their road marching miles significantly.”

He added, “Increased rigor has been added to each of the field training exercises that are part of the Hammer, Anvil, and Forge phases. The new POI will continue to turn our recruits into trained, competent and professional Soldiers.”

According to Capt. Michael Krant, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment commander, the new changes focus more on the basic skills needed to set trainees up to become better Soldiers.

“After our company reviewed the new POI, there was consensus that the training refocused trainee development on core competencies expected of every Soldier; shooting, land navigation, and other skills are extensively trained and reevaluated over the course of this new 10-week program. I am confident that the Soldiers graduating with this class will be trained and physically ready to contribute to their first units as soon as they arrive,” Krant said.

Krant said the biggest change is the level of difficulty.

“The training is significantly more rigorous; however, as we have progressed through our first iteration, it’s pretty clear that the trainees get a feeling of accomplishment when completing major events,” he said.

1st Lt. Tori Menendez, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, executive officer, said the reintroduction of backup iron sights and optics training and qualifications into the BCT POI is designed to prepare Soldiers for real-world situations.

“Learning how to shoot with iron sights is crucial because it gives every Soldier thorough hands on training so they know what to do if their equipment fails,” she said. “You always have to have a backup plan in case your Close Combat Optics fail when shooting at targets or engaging an enemy.”

New Soldiers will be required to meet the Army’s AFTB standards. The previous POI required a minimum score of 50 percent in each physical training event to graduate. Trainees will now need to meet the minimum Army standard of 60 percent to graduate BCT.

Menendez suggests incoming trainees prepare themselves for the increased physical requirements. “Trainees need to come into the Army ready to pass a PT test,” Menendez said.

“Many recruiters establish physical training programs the minute an individual signs their contract and takes the Oath of Enlistment,” she said. “Trainees need to take that seriously and hold themselves to that standard.”

Somerlot said as Soldiers train and develop skills together, they will increase their esprit de corps as well as self-confidence.

“Soldiers should expect to leave basic training with more refined Soldier skills, increased physical fitness levels, more discipline and confidence in their abilities as they transition to advanced individual training or to their first unit of assignment,” Somerlot said.

Company F, 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, completes a ruck march during Hammer Phase, which has been added to basic training as part of the POI changes. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Sullivan.