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News | May 17, 2022

Next Leader Up

By Spc. Nicole Blake

For the first time in three years, the 195th Regional Training Institute hosted the Region 1 Officer Candidate School (OCS) Field Leadership Exercise (FLX) at the New Hampshire National Guard Training Site in Center Strafford from May 12 to 15.

More than 60 officer candidates from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire participated in the rigorous, four-day exercise.

“The biggest challenge so far has been the heat,” said Officer Candidate Trevor McMinn of Vermont. “We’ve had an abnormally long and hot couple of days.”

Surrounded by nagging bugs while navigating difficult terrain, candidates had to adapt to their environment and work with unfamiliar people.

“With the near record high temperature, there are going to be a physical challenges,” said Maj. Mark Goldey, commander of NHARNG's OCS program. “We want leaders who are able to deal with these stresses and react under pressure.”

The FLX is designed to place candidates in real-world scenarios they could potentially face during overseas combat missions, evaluators said. It also allows participants the opportunity to fine-tune their skills before the final phase of OCS, a three-week event at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

“You might call it a dress rehearsal,” said 1st Lt. James Lawrence, a training, advising and counseling (TAC) officer for NHARNG OCS. “Candidates are tested on troop leading procedures and their ability to plan and deliver an order, and execute a mission.”

Candidates were evaluated on their performance as a squad leader during Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes. They had to relay operational information to their squad, react to simulated ambushes, and adapt to terrain and weather they may not be used to.

“We want this to be a learning experience and, at the same time, they (candidates) need to be in a more stressful environment,” Lawrence said. “We try to do the best we can to recreate that experience before they go down to Alabama and have to take the test for the final time.”

Throughout the FLX, candidates remained focused on the bigger picture and eager for their next task.

“It's great to see different perspectives and work with quality candidates from other states,” said Officer Candidate Sean Rocheleau of New Hampshire.

Rocheleau believes the Army is getting quality officer material from the East Coast.

1st Lt. Tim Smith, a TAC officer for NHARNG OCS, agreed.

“Our officer candidates come from a variety of backgrounds,” he said. “They’re all professionals in the civilian world and it’s really cool to see them develop into Army leaders.”