By Story by Capt. Ernest Wang
Area Support Group - Jordan
Four Soldiers serving overseas in Jordan are enrolled in the emergency Basic Leader Course (eBLC), and on their way to joining the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Corps.
Enrolled in the first eBLC taught in Jordan are Spc. Tyler Reninger and Spc. Joshua Balhuizen of the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Spc. Chala Strosnider of the 480th Medical Detachment (Preventive Medicine), and Cpl. Juan Arredonda of the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry, Washington National Guard.
The course is a distance learning version of BLC, the first leadership course NCOs attend, which is typically taught in residence at an NCO Academy.
Due to the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, precautions have prevented junior enlisted Soldiers from attending BLC in-residence. In order to continue the professional military education of junior enlisted Soldiers, the Army has implemented eBLC while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place.
“It’s been different from training I usually instruct,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Hjelmstad, an eBLC assistant instructor from the 1-303rd CAV, about the distance learning format. “But it is a great opportunity for the Soldiers attending.”
The course taught in Jordan is managed by the Army Central Command (ARCENT) NCO Academy in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and headed by Cmd. Sgt. Maj. James Marsh, the Senior Enlisted Advisor for Area Support Group-Jordan. The current course began April 20th and will conclude with graduation May 12th.
Each training day of eBLC begins at 5 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m, and is identical in standards to that upheld in NCO Academies. Course topics include Leadership, Training Management, Map Reading, Land Navigation, Drill and Ceremony, and Warfighting.
“We’ve received great support from the Camp Buehring NCO Academy. They’ve provided great guidance, encouragement, and materials,” said Staff. Sgt. Lori Dameron, an eBLC assistant instructor from the 480th MD(PM).
The training has progressed forward with great success, despite occasional connectivity issues.
“There have been a few technical difficulties to overcome,” said Reninger, of Montesano, Washington. “But I’m very grateful to everyone who has worked hard to make this course possible while COVID-19 is going on.”
Arredondo, a native of Douglas, Wyoming, agreed. “The level at which eBLC has been implemented is really impressive considering the scope of it.”
“COVID-19 has caused some road blocks, but nothing the NCOs of the Army can’t handle,” said Balhuizen, of Kansas City, Missouri. “My experience has been great. I could have asked for a better opportunity.”
The distance learning format has also revealed certain advantages.
“Since I’m able to download the course materials, I can use them as future references, even to help develop future Soldiers,” said Arredondo.
“I enjoy the smaller classes,” said Strosnider, of Bourbon, Missouri, who social distances with her classmates and instructors. “I’m really appreciative of the ability to get one-on-one time with my instructors and to build relationships with my classmates. Everyone has the motivation to move forward, and it really shows.”
The U.S. Army is in Jordan, one of the nation’s closest allies in the region, to build partner capacities with the Jordan Armed Forces. Continuing the professional development of Soldiers, even in mobilized environments, is always a priority for the force.
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