FORT GORDON, Ga. (March 10, 2017) -- Cadets with the Reserve Officer Training Corps from more than seven colleges in Georgia and including one from Puerto Rico, participated in a joint field training exercise Feb. 23 -- 26 at Fort Gordon.

More than 200 Cadets took part training in land navigation, first aid, small fire team maneuvers, and other basic tactical troop leading procedures across Fort Gordon Training Areas.

"All of this is at the basic level to give them the foundation to go to the next level, which would be advanced camp held at Fort Knox, Kentucky," said Georgia Southern University Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Erik A. Kjonnerod.

Military Science level 3 Cadets tested on land navigation to apply what they learned in their classroom curriculum and execute training in the field where they were assessed by cadre members. Testing began at 4 a.m. continuing into daylight creating a limited visibility atmosphere. Out of the six designated known points, Cadets must locate four, according to Cadet Lt. Col. Edward Echavez, GSU battalion commander. Land navigation is a very important part to complete a mission.

Cadets road marched to their next training area miles away to preform squad and platoon level situational training exercises such as react to contact and reconnaissance scenarios. Cadre placed Cadets in rotating leader positions to assess their leadership capabilities.

"There are several (Cadets) out there that are really confident and they have a good understanding of what they need to do, but then there are others that are like 'I don't know you, I haven't worked with you before' and that is the whole purpose of this FTX," said Kjonnerod.

"That's a critical aspect of leadership. How do you build that unit cohesion within a formation where 'I don't know this guy, I don't know this girl?' We haven't worked together, so how do you work that together," he said.

There will be friction, because one Cadet will state the other is doing it wrong, but it's not their time to lead. Cadets need to teach each other to help themselves grow.

"It's a great opportunity for training, learning and growth. Ultimately, we are all here to learn, grow and get better because they want to become a successful officer leading young men and women. This is a great part of that beginning development," he said.

Many of the cadre members were facilitators conducting command post operations during the FTX. These Cadets are in their senior year of college, about to commission as officers in the Army. Cadets established and executed operation orders to manage the day-to-day operations, receiving information and tasking actions for water resupply, medical aid missions to include accountability and health status of Cadets in the field.

"This is good preparation for future second lieutenants as they are getting ready to join the Army," said Kjonnerod. "This is something they will get when they go into their first unit of assignment. Most of them will go down into a platoon, but many will end up going on a staff and this is where they get that understanding to get the big picture. This is a good test for them and training opportunity to receive here."