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USACE civilians introduced to Army life

Fort Leonard Wood
Published Dec. 30, 2013
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo.-- The United States Army Corps of Engineers conducted their annual Leadership Development Program training Dec. 4 through 5, using various ranges and training areas throughout Fort Leonard Wood.

This program was developed by USACE to give their civilian employees an introduction to Army culture as well as leadership training, but it actually goes further than that, it also gives them a better understanding of the importance of their jobs and just where they fit into the big picture.

"This is an annual event sponsored by the Kansas City District. The intent is to provide the LDP participants with a team building exercise while introducing them to the Army experience, so they can better support the Corps of Engineers," said Capt. Garrett Haddad, USACE project engineer. "Annually, we conduct this program bringing down civilian employees from the Kansas City District and introduce them to Army culture, as well as leadership training."

Robert Johnson, Kansas City district USACE contract specialist and program participant, came to USACE from the Marine Corps and said this program is helping him feel more of a connection to the Army.

"We have class every month, we have books to read, reports to write, mentoring sessions and shadowing sessions," Johnson said. "It's making me understand leadership a little better, and I think my favorite part about the program so far has been the self-reflection that we have to do to understand who we are as a person, as an employee and as a potential leader."

The annual trip to Fort Leonard Wood is the kickoff to the program every year, bringing the group together with the exercises before they continue on.

"The Army recognizes the importance of leadership training," said Jill Fraley, USACE Kansas City program coordinator. "Typically I'll see 30 applicants a year, this year we only took eight because of budget concerns. We also try to take from across the various programs in the district to make sure it's diverse."

Corps employees conducted training on Range 31 (the Grenade Assault Course), Engagement Skills Trainer, TA 136 (Rappel Wall), TA137 (Leader Development Course), and the Shoot House on Range 33.

According to Haddad, also on their agenda was a museum tour to talk about the history of the Engineers and the history of the Corps of Engineers giving them a better understanding of the evolution of the Engineers throughout history.

"Its not every day you get into a program whose sole objective is to make you a better person," said Brian Thompson, USACE park ranger and program participant. "Teambuilding, getting to encourage other people, have other people encourage you and having a better understanding of the Army way of life, which is what we do -- we serve the Army with the Corps of Engineers as civilian contractors."

The group's next trip will be out to Washington, D.C. in the spring.