West Point cadet cadre lead the Class of 2014 through Beast
July 1, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. (July 1, 2010) -- With the attention now on the nearly 1,400 new cadets headed from Reception Day into Cadet Basic Training, it will be a few years before they fully understand the logistics of the peer leadership occurring behind the scenes.
Weeks before their arrival, a group of about 270 Firsties and Cows (the junior and senior class cadets) worked from sunup to sundown to ensure everything from Reception Day to the training that follows meets West Point standards.
They marched in cadence, conducted and evaluated physical training and engaged in every drill a new cadet will be expected to perform in the coming weeks. They rehearsed and validated every task, every movement and every command they will issue to the new cadets.
"We're validating all the training that new cadets will go through and we'll go through it all ourselves and identify the strengths and weaknesses of those plans, make any changes and improvements before the new cadets arrive," Firstie Marc Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin, the CBT regimental commander, said this was crucial so the squad leaders and platoon sergeants responsible for the new cadets will have all their lines memorized with the set format for the execution of that training. For example, commands familiar to all Soldiers within PT circles in the Army will be brand new to most incoming cadets. So when the platoon leader yells out, "Side Straddle Hop" and begins counting off, everyone knows to respond with the proper exercise.
"Those lines have to be flawless, and that goes for everything starting with Reception Day," Beaudoin said. "So, for example, we've been practicing for the mock R-Day Rehearsal and they'll be able to recite without thinking, 'Step up to my line, not on my line, not over my line' to the point where we can execute it flawlessly."
Although charged with leading the cadet cadre and positioned at the top of the chain of command, Beaudoin said the Cows detailed as squad leaders and platoon sergeants will have the most impact on the new cadets.
"They will be assigned 10-11 new cadets and will have the most interaction with the new cadets every single day," Beaudoin said. "They will be the model of West Point and, based on the success of how we've trained the squad leaders, will determine how well the new cadets will be trained. They really are the most important element-the front line of leadership."
Bravo Company's Tactical Officer and Class of 2000 graduate Maj. Tom Kennedy has been impressed with the hard work that his company and especially his platoon sergeants have accomplished to this point.
"For the Cows this is the first time they have had the opportunity to be directly responsible to lead troops much like they will be in the field," Kennedy said. "They all possess the natural ability to be good leaders and, with being responsible for these new cadets, they will develop these skills."
Kennedy said this summer detail is about the leadership development of the CBT staff most importantly, while how well the new cadets do throughout the summer is direct representation of their ability to lead and work as a staff.
Cows Cody Huggins and Michael Manzano have been looking forward to the opportunity to lead CBT since they completed Beast their plebe year.
"My cadre had such a big impact on me when I was in Beast, even though I read about West Point before I got here, once I arrived I realized I really did not know anything about how things operate here," Manzano said. "They helped me to really develop, so I knew I wanted to do the same and help the new cadets get off on the right foot here at this academy I really enjoy going to."
Huggins shares the same affinity for the academy as Manzano does. However, he also wants to ensure the new cadets' Beast experience will be even better than what he encountered.
"I watched how my squad leaders and other squad leaders were when I was a Plebe," Huggins said. "There were many things that I liked on how they dealt with us, while there were some things that I saw that I knew when I had the chance to be in their shoes that I would not implement in my leadership style."
Huggins also said everyone has to develop their own style of leadership.
"You can't just act a certain way if it does not fit who you are. If you do, there is the possibility that the new cadets could just tune you out and you will not be a successful leader," Huggins said.
Looking at the color-coded CBT training chart, Beaudoin pointed out the white spaces scattered throughout the six-week schedule.
Cadet company commanders have the opportunity to demonstrate additional leadership skills by filling those blanks with their own training regimen.
"The company commanders will develop their own training for that time based on what they see fit," Beaudoin said. "If they're going to land navigation the next day, they'll probably develop some sort of training to get the new cadets prepared for that. This is really how (cadet company commanders) can leave their mark on that company, on what they do with that white space."
On July 18, Beaudoin and his cadet cadre will transfer command to a new group of Cows and Firsties to complete the training of the new cadets.
"One of our goals is a seamless change of command so that the new cadets never experience that," Beaudoin said. "All the things that we've put in place as the first detail should be mirrored; leadership styles will change a little bit but there should be no conflicting guidance or reports. Our success at the end of the day will be measured when the new cadets at the end of Beast Barracks have achieved all the tasks and are proficient in them," he added. "If they're successful, then that's how we'll measure our success."