By Will Ravenstein, Fort Riley Public AffairsMarch 19, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- With the sounds of field artillery rounds going off in the impact zone and the thumping of the Browning .50-caliber echoing through the air, the cadets of the University of Kansas' Jayhawk Battalion moved through the ranges March 9 to 11.
The four-day squad training exercise had cadets operate a patrol base, conduct patrolling operations -- including reacting to and setting up an ambush location -- moved through an obstacle course, a repel tower and a familiarization fire of the M4 rifle March 11.
Capt. Michael Hayes, Jayhawk Battalion executive officer, said that getting students out of the classroom and into a training environment is essential for leadership development.
"Classrooms can only teach them so much," he said. "To actually get out and get some practice -- that's what makes a good leader, practice and repetition. So, the more times we can get out and actually let them exercise leadership, the better opportunity they will have before they are actually standing in front of Soldiers."
The training is also essential to help form the cadets into triathletes, Hayes said we like to call them.
"Scholar, athlete, leader," Hayes said. "To pull them out here with the different exercises, with different scenarios, so they can base their decision making process off of (experience), ultimately will benefit them with any scenario they come across."
For cadet Brendan Fahrenbach, a senior from Chicago, said the training is beneficial for the younger cadets.
"I think it's real good training for the other cadets in the program," he said. "I feel they are getting a lot better training than we had in the prior years."
The sounds from the range enhanced the training for Fahrenbach, who will be going to the Field Artillery Officer Basic Leadership Course, after graduation.
"It definitely makes it feel more realistic," he said. "I like getting out, 'cause it makes you feel like you are actually in the Army and not just doing ROTC things. So it's a good experience."
Hayes said the purpose of training was repetition and instilled the groundwork for a future knowledge base.
"Each mission scenario is going to be different but as long as you standardize hand-arm signals, reporting and overall battle drills then they can be interchangeable from any position to understand what needs to be done," he said. "No matter where they are at.
This is an introduction to standardization. Ultimately, infantry tactics at the squad level is the easiest way to evaluate leadership potential. It's the simplest task that can be done repetitively."
Hayes said watching cadets work through the decision making process is a great joy of his.
"You want them to be successful, you want them to know the things you know," he said.
"So you have to step back and let them go through that decision process on their own … it's awesome to watch. You can see the decision process that they are going through and ultimately trying to do the best thing that they know."
Hayes said he credits the partnerships between Fort Riley and Kansas Army National Guard allowed the Jayhawk Battalion more experience.
"Fort Riley has been real receptive to allow us to come out and use their training area and give us resources when we need it," he said. "The Kansas Army National Guard has been pretty good with providing us with assets like helicopter flights and weapon systems, 'cause we don't have any of our own. Really, the partnerships of Fort Riley and the Kansas Guard has really been able to enhance our training and give them a real life experience for what the Army could entail."
While the ROTC cadets used local assets in Lawrence, blank gun fire and helicopters flew overhead to simulate military life.
"It really gives you that sense of the military life you get at Fort Riley," Hayes said. "It's a great experience for them to maneuver and train."
The cadets will take this training and prepare for their next event April 7, in Lawrence.
The battalion will host the 24th annual Kansas University Army ROTC Ranger Buddy Competition at the KU Cross County track at Rim Rock Farm where teams from across the U.S. will participate.