Team Leader Class July 10, 2021by “Timbersour”

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Team Leader course up with Mike up in NC this past weekend. It was a great class; I know I learned a ton and I think even the more experienced students picked up some new things.

As it says on Mike’s website, Von Steuben Training, the purpose of the course is to train effective small-unit leaders. To make this happen, the course curriculum included not just fire team tactics and drills, but the full spectrum of a leader’s tasks including building a team, mission planning, developing training tailored to your team and their expected mission sets, weapon and equipment considerations, and even a bit of leadership theory.

The structure of the class alternated between running drills and academic talks around the campfire. I found this worked very well; Mike use the “crawl-walk-run” method of introducing concepts to us, and every iteration of drills gave us the chance to practice the new concepts introduced; both from a tactical and leadership perspective. Instruction started with the basic composition of the Fire Team and familiarization with special weapons, paired with basic buddy pair and Fire Team rushes. Mike first demonstrated new concepts during the drills, and then gave each student a turn at leading the team. A common theme here was leading by example, which Mike emphasized both during the drills and during his lesson on building and training a team. We learned how to tailor a training plan to an expected mission set, and then practiced some of those during drills, including reacting to contact, breaking contact, hand signals and communications, and defense considerations. All throughout the day Mike never missed an opportunity to build off a “teachable moment”. Rifle not painted? Let’s do a quick search comparison with one that is. Mess up during a drill? Let’s make your team’s training more dynamic by simulating a casualty and incorporating some TCCC. The training day culminated with a mission scenario where the students had to make a plan to accomplish an objective, followed by fire and maneuver drills where multiple students served as team leaders, acting together as a squad to assault an objective.

Though only a single-day class, the Team Leader course was well worth the drive for me. While I don’t have the tactical background that many on AP have, as someone who’s been to more than a few leadership courses Mike’s class was far and away the best instruction I’ve received on the topic, and the tactical instruction was of no less quality. Mike has a talent for teaching, and with so much of the current challenge being centered on building local tribes and networks I cannot recommend this course enough. I believe Mike is planning on adding some additional courses in the future and I look forward to training with him again.