5 November 2010
by Staff Sgt. Thaddius S. Dawkins II/49th PAD
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Paratroopers conducted their final pre-combat checks and inspections. Following the completion of the pre-mission requirements, they began to talk strategy. Only this time, it was strategy against their fellow platoon members.
The paratroopers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division gathered at Freedom Paintball Field outside Fort Bragg Oct. 28, to participate in the Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Warrior Adventure Quest program.
"The Warrior Adventure Quest is a Department of the Army approved and endorsed program under executive orders for all redeploying units," said Derek Weller, a Fort Bragg FMWR Warrior Adventure Quest recreation specialist. "WAQ is designed to re-create the adrenaline rush of combat action in a supervised, controlled and high adventure activity which is supervised by MWR staff."
While in Afghanistan, the paratroopers worked together as a team, spending the majority of their time training the Afghan National Army and national police.
"WAQ instills unit cohesion, builds teamwork and maintains combat readiness through high-adventure activities," Weller said.
"WAQ also gives the guys a chance to work together in a different way than what a regular field problem allows," said Sgt. Nathan D. Blanchette, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon.
"The WAQ program began on Fort Bragg in January of 2010," Weller said. "Since the program started, we have seen approximately 3,000 Soldiers with another 1,500 scheduled before year's end."
Any unit is eligible to participate in the WAQ program within 90 days of redeploying, Weller explained.
Along with teamwork and unit cohesion, BATTLEMIND training is another advantage to units participating in the WAQ program.
The BATTLEMIND acronym stands for: buddies, accountability, targeted aggression, tactical awareness, lethally armed, emotional control, mission operational security, individual responsibility, non-defensive driving, discipline and ordering, explained Weller.
BATTLEMIND training is the inner strength a warrior should have that helps him with the reintegration process, said Capt. Chan Ham, a chaplain with Co. C.
"True BATTLEMIND is also removing the negative issues out of your life and having a positive mindset," Ham explained to the paratroopers.
Although BATTLEMIND training is one of the main focuses, WAQ offers other benefits as well. "One of the benefits of being out here paintballing is that it's a good way to relieve the stress that's associated with being in an infantry battalion," said Blanchette, a native of Parsonsfield, Maine.
Private First Class Alexander J. Sherwood, a rifleman with 3rd Platoon and a new paratrooper to the platoon, felt like paintballing was a great way for him to see the platoon perform under pressure.
"Since I have yet to deploy with the platoon and see how they work in combat, this is a great way for me to be introduced into it," said Sherwood, a native of Binghamton, N.Y.
All in all, the Co. C paratroopers said they enjoyed the stress-free opportunity to participate in the Warrior Adventure Quest.
"I think Warrior Adventure Quest is great for the guys returning from deployment to relax and have a great time in a controlled environment without the hazards that can be associated with doing it on your own," Sherwood said.
Any redeploying units wanting additional information should contact Warrior Adventure Quest recreation specialist Derek Weller at 396-1774 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.