Military Problem Solving(Obstacle Course)


Military Obstacle Course


Do you remember the last time you solved a problem? I recall back when I attended Military basic training in South Carolina, we did our shared of obstacle courses. We were a team and worked as a team to finish or get around the obstacles, and completing it which was our goal.

I remember trying to solve the problems we faced to get to our goals, and somehow we would stop and think because at first it all seemed so difficult. We would somehow get into the fixation stage of the problem. Fixation is the tendency of focusing on specific characteristics of problems which keeps the person from arriving at a solution, which is the goal of the problem. (Cognitive Psychology, Pg329).

As I was looking for videos on YouTube, I encounter a video which made me retrieve long term memories from 2003 while in South Carolina. I remember as my basic training company had to cross a “bridge” with about 3 long pieces of wood. There were 3 long sticks stuck on the grown where we could place the pieces of wood to build a bridge so all the soldiers could make it to the other side. We needed to do it in a way so the wood would not fall, and make sure all the recruits made it to the other side without falling or letting the pieces of wood fall. I remember we used creative problem solving, by convergent thinking.  Convergent thinking is thinking that finds a solution to a problem which has a correct answer. (Cognitive psychology,  Pg 349).

Another problem we encounter was when we were supposed to climb over(scale a wall ) this fence which was over 8 feet tall. No recruit was to be left behind. We employed creative problem solving, by helping one another jump over the fence. Having the recruits put their foot on each other shoulders. The last recruit was the tallest one. We recommended for the recruit to back away and start running while we made a pyramid on the other side, while having another recruit hanging to be able to pull the last recruit over the fence. By using Convergent thinking we made it to the solution which was for all the recruits to make it to the other side.

In conclusion, problems do not necessarily have to be numerical. There are words problems, numerical problems, and everyday problems. What problems have you encounter lately?




Goldstein, E. Bruce. (2011). Cognitive psychology connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


1 thought on “Military Problem Solving(Obstacle Course)

  1. Jennifer Margaret Gessler

    The strengths you had in your team led you to victory. The same problem solving elements became the downfall on a recent episode of Amazing Race. Amazing Race is a game show where contestants need to use physical strength, mental strength and team work to win a race around the world while completing challenges. The biggest obstacle that team #3 faced, was not coming behind to win 1st place but was not falling victim to fixation. After battling to 1st place they faced a sewing challenge. Both contestants have worked in theater and were extremely excited because of their experience making costumes. However, because of their history with costumes they failed to read instructions and spent 40 minutes completing an entire outfit that was not needed. Fixation is people’s tendency to focus on a specific characteristic of the problem that keeps them from getting to a solution. In this case it was failing to see the challenge as less than making a costume, starting with taking measurements. The real challenge was to cut out shapes that were already predetermined and provided.

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