Eight centuries ago, Genghis Khan used the "Mungadai" to test potential leaders by linking physical and combat readiness, forcing them to perform under extreme conditions of stress. Khan’s Mungadai-tested warriors were believed to be among the elite in the Mongolian empire’s army.
Fast forward to July 28, as Lt. Col. John Herrman, commander, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, leads 33 officers and five cadets in the modern and rigorous version of this training exercise.
In the early morning darkness, Soldiers quickly climbed out of military trucks wearing full combat gear deep in the heart of Fort Bragg’s training areas. Unlike other Soldiers in the training areas, these Soldiers were preparing for physical training.
Soldiers of the 3rd Bn., 321st FAR use the Mungadai training concept as part of the battalion commander’s leader training program where events such as reflexive firing, stress shooting and combat life-saving techniques, all under simulated battlefield conditions, are combined with PT.
"This is one of a series of leader professional development events," Herrman said. "The intent is to link physical readiness with combat readiness while providing me an opportunity to get out with all the officers and test their mettle."
This intense series of training events began before dawn on Ardennes Street where officers and cadets received their mission briefing and prepared their equipment.
They then loaded trucks and were transported to Latham pickup zone where the Soldiers disembarked, teamed up in groups of five to six and were put to the test with a 2-mile litter carry of 250 pounds to Range 29.
At Range 29, Soldiers immediately prepped equipment for a live-fire stress shoot.
Their fitness was put to the test, as stress was the driving force of the training.
Additionally, during a fitness test, participants were required to team up in groups of seven, each carrying full water cans and sprinting 150 meters to 180 pound awaiting litters.
At the litter, the teams conducted 10 overhead presses and then moved the litter to an awaiting truck. They lifted the litters from the ground to overhead five times, simulating the action of loading a patient. Finally, they moved the litters back to their original location, picked up the water cans and sprinted back to the starting point.
Fatigued and sweaty, the servicemembers were ready to conduct the stress shoot.
"After the exercises were completed and we ran to receive our weapons and ammunition, I was surprised how the simplest of tasks like finding our way onto our lanes at the range became challenging due to everyone’s heightened level of stress and activity," said 1st Lt. Haley Martin, a 321st FAR platoon leader.
Each participant ran to the ammunition point where they accounted for an M9 pistol and four magazines. They then rapidly moved to a firing point and an awaiting coach. Nearing exhaustion, as their eye protection fogged and their arms were no longer steady, the Soldiers had to engage a sequence of 18 pop up targets.
"This gave me a great opportunity to do some team building with all of my officers," said Herrman. "And at the same time, demonstrate the direct linkage of physical readiness with combat readiness while forcing them to concentrate under stress. That was the intent of the training."
By all accounts, the training objective was achieved.
"Mungadai PT is a great way to incorporate both physical training and combat training into one event … I think units should do this type of training more often during PT hours as it prepares you for the rigors of combat in a unique way and is also a great workout," said Cadet Katie Wilson, U.S. Military Academy at West Point.