By Mr. Michael Maddox (ROTC)May 16, 2016
FORT KNOX, Ky. - Cadets from across the nation will soon be arriving at Fort Knox for the summer to take their next steps in training as officers by completing Cadet Summer Training (CST).
This summer, more than 10,000 Cadets, in the form of 10 Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) regiments and 7 Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) regiments, will build upon the skills necessary for new Army lieutenants.
To ensure the Cadets are trained to be the agile and adaptive leaders that are needed for the future, this summer will prove to be even more challenging than in past rotations, said Col. Dan Kelley, Cadet Summer Training commander.
Many of the changes to deliver that challenge will be in the form of changes to CLC.
"One of the biggest things Cadets will notice this summer is the amount of rigor involved," Kelley said. "I think there will be a lot more physical demands on the Cadets than in the past."
"We provided transportation to a lot of the events last year, and this year they will be doing a lot of foot marching," he said. "They will spend more time in the field for CLC -- about half of their time in summer camp. And in that, they are going to be in an operational environment."
He added, there have also been some other changes to the field training that will allow the Cadets to get the maximum benefit from their time in the "operational" environment.
"We've gone from less of going out to a range and back to learn something, for example first aid. This year we have a mobile training team that comes in and takes them through all of the first aid requirements while they are in the field," said Kelley. "We have tried to move away as much as possible from the lane training-type focus to keep them in an operational environment."
Kelley said the field exercise for CLC will also be more of free-play environment.
"They will have a thinking enemy, and based on how you perform they will adjust allowing us to turn the pressure up or down depending on what's going on," he said.
Master Sgt. Russ Watts, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for CST operations, said the training will be very similar to what commissioned officers face at the National Training Center in California or the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana.
"We have an immersive environment that replicates a combat training center rotation using a decisive action training environment. What this does is it enables us to replicate the same type of training for each Cadet that will come through CLC," he explained. "You have friendly and enemy forces trying to win over the populace for their own objectives and defeat the enemy. They all have the same agenda and it's a Cadet force on a Cadet force (with CST cadre) which is a new thing this year. It's a near-peer fight -- they all have the same abilities, the same weapons, same knowledge skills and abilities to try to outsmart and defeat the other."
Kelley said the added aspects should challenge the Cadets ability to think under pressure, and not just perform tasks to standard.
"Our measure of success for the Cadets is if we challenged them. We want them to be challenged mentally, physically, in every possible way to force them to be agile, adaptive leaders," he said.
Lt. Col. Robert Schiller, Officer in Change for CST operations, added CST will provide Cadets all of the tools needed to become future leaders in the Army.
"We want to make them better problem solvers in a chaotic environment -- they can be better lieutenants," he said. "They aren't just coming to camp to get a score, they're coming to get developed by some of the greatest leaders available. Camp is about developing future leaders, not just surging toward a test."
Two other additions to CLC will include exposure to what Garrison services are available, and then problem solving using those resources, as well as a Commitment to the Army Profession Seminar - a two-day strategic level seminar for Cadets with senior level Army leaders as keynote speaker.
For CIET, Kelley said the main focus will be on military discipline and the basics of being an officer.
"We are training these Cadets to be leaders, but first we have to make sure they know the basics -- marching, drill and ceremony and military courtesy," he said. "In their day-to-day activities in their programs they may not have as much opportunity to practice those skills, so we want to ensure they have ample opportunity to get the basics down."
Kelley said that while CST provides Cadets a place to practice the skills they have learned on campus, it also provides a place for them to receive feedback on how they execute those skills.
"The Cadets want and need feedback, so we've added in peer evaluations three time throughout the summer," he said. "This is helpful when someone is counseling a Cadet because they can discuss what their peers have seen, how they see themselves and what the cadre have seen. All of that combined helps them build a picture of better self-awareness and where their developmental needs are."
Kelley offered one piece of advice for Cadets this summer.
"Come here physically fit and motivated. If you come here out of shape and you are in charge, if you are struggling to just to keep up physically beside all of the mentally challenging tasks, you have that added pressure on you," he said.
He added all of the tools needed for a Cadet to have a successful CST experience are in place, and his goal is to know they walk away a more developed leader.
"I would be happy if a Cadet says they were challenged and learned about themselves, and learned how to work well with others to become a competent, agile, problem solver," he said.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command is the largest single source of new officers for the Army, commissioning the majority of the Army's new officers each year through the senior ROTC program.