Regarding "Army report faults trainers in death during map exercise" (Aug. 29, Page A-11): Sgt. Lawrence Sprader had a map, compass, and cell phone on him. As a former soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, I can attest to the extreme heat, and have a vast knowledge of the course Sprader was on, as I conducted many land navigation exercises there.
Although Sprader's death is a tragedy, I cannot hold anyone accountable other than Sprader himself. One of the basic soldiering skills is your ability to read a map and plot your exact position. Under no circumstance should Sprader have become lost on a course that is actually sparse of foliage. Numerous roads run through the course that Sprader could have used to navigate his way back to camp or wait for pickup.
He also failed to make certain that his canteens were filled prior to embarking on an arduous navigation course, which is standard practice. Throughout my career, I came across numerous soldiers who were incompetent with regard to land navigation. I hope that in the future no soldier is promoted to noncommissioned officer without proving their mastery in this most basic skill.
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