By Mr. Eric Kowal (RDECOM)November 6, 2008
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Nearly 60 cadets in the Rutgers Reserve Officer Training Corps traveled here to practice movement techniques using paintballs to simulate actual rounds Oct. 28.
Lt. Col. Ken Patterson, battalion commander and professor of military science, and Capt. Michel Blachowski, assistant professor of military science and executive officer, both veterans of the ongoing war in Iraq, said they decided the Picatinny paintball course would be one of the best ways to prepare the cadets for what they may ultimately face in the future.
To allow knowledge to filter through the ranks, junior cadets worked in teams headed by senior cadets who already completed their summer training.
Blachowski explained that because the cadets are still in college they are not "real Soldiers yet."
Because of their inexperience, she said, the training helps them realize the effects of the battlefield.
"This is one step closer to reality for them."
Louis Piccirillo, a Picatinny employee and paintball range officer, said the course is unique because not many changes to the landscaping needed to done as the boundaries are natural and many of the trees and rocks provide cover to the players to simulate a real-life scenario.
While the cadets of Scarlet Knight Battalion come from various geographical locations and have diverse backgrounds, because it is a large part of their training, each cadet is familiar with close quarter maneuvers, which is what the group trained for during their time at Picatinny.
The future military leaders rotated through the simulated battlefield taking turns planning maneuvers and tactics.
Blachowski said organizers tried to make the event as realistic as possible.
"The cadets are even carrying their (meals-ready-to-eat) in their cargo pockets because they need to realize that ... chow is not always at 1200 hours."
Blachowski was assigned to her current duty at Rutgers in March.
An avid paintball player, she mentioned to Patterson that she would like to start a program for the cadets.
After purchasing equipment, which included paintball guns, known as markers, balls and other items, the hunt for a playing field ensued.
Blachowski said that she ended up at Picatinny after learning the installation recently bought some equipment and opened its own field.
Chris Brown, assistant director of outdoor recreation for the Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation directorate said he coordinated all the behind the scenes work to include pricing and how the event would be organized.
He also said that his long-term goal is to have the outdoor recreation program at Picatinny Arsenal be a leading example for the entire U.S. Army.
Both Patterson and Blachowski said the cadets enjoyed the learning experience and see how this could be the first of many training missions using Picatinny's paintball field.
The paintball course, which opened in June, is open to service personnel, DOD employees and their family members.