Week 5 - BELPS (Part 2 of 2)

Basic Expeditionary Leadership Problems (BELPS)

The final main event of Week 5 was BELPS.  BELPS was another leadership training scenario outlined in the syllabus.  Here is the info from our syllabus:

Objective:  Apply concepts of leadership, followership, problem solving methods, communication, team building, and motivation techniques in a small group under time constraints.  Cadets will also assess their role in the group and how they react to group dynamics.  Each cadet will have an opportunity to lead a team in a problem solving session and therefore flight size may impact scheduled hours.

Description:  The BELPS evaluation is a problem solving, scenario-based exercise designed to evaluate the cadet's leadership in a field environment.  This evaluation is the first opportunity for the cadet to receive feedback regarding strengths/weaknesses in the area of field leadership and is designed to provide the cadet with a 'benchmark' regarding areas of improvement.

As for the practical description of the above, our Flt/CC tasked our FDO to make a schedule of all Flight personnel which rotated us as leader, time keeper, observers, and participants.  The leader was in charge of the participants, the observers were safeties for the scenarios and also helped enforce the rules, and the time keeper held the stop watch and enforced the time penalties.  At the beginning of each scenario the leader was handed a card with a problem to solve.  An example of a problem was to move from one marker to another on the grass by using directions for navigation by compass.  Some limiting factors could have been to not make noise or members not being able to see.  Although the objective is to complete the scenario, it is more important to effectively lead your time through the objective.  The grading sheet only awarded one point for mission success but the rest of the points were on different aspects of leadership.

We completed BELPS out in a field on base about a 10 minute bus ride from the campus.  Since everyone was required to be the leader BELPS stretched over two days.  At the beginning of the day we headed to the field first thing in the morning and we rotated through all of the different scenarios.  Our Flt/CC was our grader for every scenario which I really appreciated.  A scenario would involve organizing in the unofficial BELPS/LRC/Project X formation which identified basic spots for everyone to stand.  We would be given the pre-brief and at the horn we would start the scenario.  After the scenario the leader would receive a debrief and a score from the grading form, and we would all reset for the next scenario.  The score was unofficial for BELPS but it gave us a good idea of what we needed to do for our official score the following week for Leadership Reaction Course (LRC).  The scoring method is exactly the same.

Practically Applying the OODA Loop

LIMFACs (Limiting Factors)
Tips for Success
Application to Reality

I found these exercises to have extremely valuable application to the real world.  It doesn't matter what you are in charge of, the lessons I learned and re-stated above can apply to anything.  Leading people in the real world involves having confidence in yourself, knowing your mission, and knowing what resources (including people) you have at your disposal.  It involves holding your people accountable if they are not complying with your directions.  Throughout OTS continuously consider how you can apply lessons learned during the course to life after OTS.