Army Master Resilience Trainer Course: An Overview

In November 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) at Fort Custer, Michigan. The course is two weeks long.  The first week is Monday through Saturday, the second week is Monday through Thursday (travel day on Friday for someone like me living in Klamath Falls, Oregon).

The purpose of MRT, as stated in MILPER Message 10-309 is: “THE ARMY ESTABLISHED COMPREHENSIVE SOLDIER FITNESS (CSF) TO INCREASE THE FITNESS, HEALTH, AND RESILIENCE OF SOLDIERS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND ARMY CIVILIANS. MASTER RESILIENCE TRAINERS WERE CREATED TO SUPPORT THE CSF BY PROVIDING RESILIENCE TRAINING AND ARE THE ORGANIZATION’S POINT OF CONTACT FOR INFORMATION REGARDING RESILIENCE TRAINING AND CFS. UPON COMPLETION OF THE COURSE SOLDIERS WILL BE AWARDED THE ASI OF 8R.”

Where can you go for MRT? According to the official Army Resilience website: “The Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) Course and program is a joint initiative between the United States Army and the University of Pennsylvania. Currently these two-week MRT courses are conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Leader Development Division (LDD), Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the National Guard MRT Training Center-WI, at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, the Great Lakes Master Resilience Center-MI, at Fort Custer, Michigan, and at various CONUS/OCONUS military facilities by Mobile Training Teams (MTT).” The MTT consists of the same trainers that teach at the resident schools, so if you do have an MTT come to your area, you will be getting the same education as everyone else.

Over the duration of MRT, you will learn the pyramid of Resilience skills, along with what resilience is. This takes place in the first week, and then you learn the teaching portion over the last week. This is a great setup, because you get comfortable in small group settings with the material, before graduating the course and being expected to teach a larger group.

The pyramid is known as the Core Competencies, and they include:

  1. Self-Awareness (which helps you identify your patterns and behaviors)
  2. Self-Regulation (which helps you regulate your patterns and behaviors)
  3. Optimism (the famous “hunt the good stuff”)
  4. Mental Agility (thinking flexibly and accurately)
  5. Strengths of Character (how do you use your character strengths to meet goals?)
  6. Connection (strong relationships are key) 

The ideal Soldiers to attend MRT are Drill Sergeants, Commanders, First Sergeants, Platoon Leaders, Platoon Sergeants, and any operational leader that has direct contact with Soldiers. MRTs can teach the course that produces RTAs (Resilience Training Assistants), which is a 3 day course.

MRT is under the umbrella of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which indicates that physical fitness is not the only important type of fitness. Given the constant deployments that many of our Soldiers have been on over the last decade-plus, there has been a rising need to address mental fitness in our Army.

When you graduate from the course, you will be assigned an ASI of 8R and will be considered a level 1. There is also a level 2, 3 and 4 with different ASIs. The different levels are necessary because a level 1 cannot create other level 1s. To teach at the MRT courses, you must be at least a level 2, but there must be a level 4 in charge of the course.

A lot of people started the course thinking the material was hokey, but found as they moved through the material that their communication with their spouse was improving through those two short weeks. I found that testimony to be quite incredible. I think that even if some of the material seems a little far out for some of you, there are good things you can take from it.

Has anybody else been to MRT? What did you think of it? Or, are you interested in going? If so, you should reach out to your unit, who can put you in touch with your state R3SP NCO.

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4 thoughts on “Army Master Resilience Trainer Course: An Overview”

  1. It has taken a long time but the Army, and the military in general, has finally come around to the idea that mental toughness and well-being is at least as important as physical toughness. Although we've spent years teaching our troops to be physically fit, it's only been the last decade or so when they began to teach how to not only be mentally agile and tough, but to see when others are in distress.

    I would recommend anyone who is able to take this course or something similar do themselves a favor and take it.

  2. Nice post. I also attended the same course at Fort Custer, MI in Feb 2014. You probably froze your butt off just like me. I really enjoyed the class and I developed significantly from it. Ranging from my view point to communication with others, I realize that I have a lot to work on. As for my unit, I haven’t got a chance to teach because I am preparing to deploy with another unit. I tried the skills on my friends and a few soldiers that I encountered and realize I have a significant impact on them.

  3. Great post Candace. I am happy to see the Army taking major steps in working with the emotional and mental well being of soldiers and their families. Yes, physical fitness includes our outer bodies, but so many do not realize that physical fitness also includes our inner beings too.

    I hope this program gets more encouragement and many attend it. It has been needed for years. Way to go Army!

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