USM ROTC means business
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 00:03
For those that didn’t know, the military runs on a 24-hour clock. Little did I know, 0530 actually means 0520 in military time. I learned this the hard way as I arrived at the George Hurst Building at precisely 0530 on Saturday morning, only to discover an empty parking lot. I called Maj. McIntyre and he curtly said, “We said we were leaving at 0530, and we didn’t have time to wait.”
“These people mean business,” I thought as I rode up to meet them at Camp Shelby.
I was assigned to be the photojournalist at the Army ROTC Spring Field Training Exercise (FTX). The FTX is a weekend-long training event to prepare cadets for the upcoming Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) at Washington State. The training focuses on developing leadership skills for the third-year cadets as they guide the first and second year cadets through the Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes.
Starting at 0700 hours, we went to the shooting range where senior cadets practiced shooting with an M16 and a target placed 25 meters away.
Next, the cadets completed land navigations. At around 1400 hours (that’s 2 p.m. regular time) they began the STX lanes, and I followed a squad as they completed a series of missions. Senior cadets and experienced Cadre evaluated the squad leaders using a Leadership Assessment Report based on character, presence, intellectual capacity, and desired qualities.
The sun went down, and the temperature quickly followed. The temperature dropped to about 25 degrees as the cadets started on their night land navigations. With the red headlights shining in the distance, they dispersed to search for plotted points in the dense woods of Camp Shelby.
I was issued a sleeping bag and took refuge in one of the vans on site while the not-so-fortunate cadets slept in sleeping bags in the surrounding woods.
On Sunday the cadets reported to the STX lanes at 0530 hours for six hours of practice in the field environment.
USM senior cadet Lance Murray said the FTX this weekend was successful.
“It was a great opportunity to work on leadership, though there is always room for improvement,” Murray said. “The most important thing the cadets can get out of this weekend is learning to work together as a cohesive team.”
Even with the perks and special treatment I was given, my experience with the Golden Eagle Battalion was challenging and demanding.
On most weekends, students enjoy sleeping in and going about their day at their leisure, unaware that a small, elite group of soldiers are preparing for war, and because of my weekend excursion into their world, I understand more of what it means to be a part of the Golden Eagle Battalion.
View the photo gallery online here.