FORT SILL, Oklahoma (April 20, 2018) -- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, held a video teleconference April 3, from their location in the U.S. Central Command area of operations with Army ROTC cadets from Cameron University, which is located in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Eighteen students, along with Lt. Col. Seth Hall, Cameron University ROTC professor of military science, attended the conference at the 75th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) Headquarters.
On the other side of the call was Col. Steven Carpenter, 75th FAB commander; and Lt. Col. John Auten and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Larsen, 1-14th FA commander and CSM respectively. Various senior noncommissioned officers and company grade officers from the CENTCOM operations area participated in the joint call.
The call with future leaders was an outreach opportunity with Cameron to give cadets an understanding of life during a deployment and an opportunity to interact with the deployed Soldiers.
The meeting began with a question-and-answer session about deployments which then delved further into the preparation and execution. During the dialogue, topics such as family, morale, and resiliency were addressed.
Cadet Christopher Lacock asked about the leaders' experiences regarding interactions with family and loved ones while on deployment.
"Being deployed is always an emotional experience, but thankfully, communication has improved over the years, and there is usually a way to contact family, be it through Wi-Fi enabled video chat, or landline morale calls," said Capt. Cory Roberts, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-14th FA commander. "The best way to get through a deployment is to ensure you regularly communicate with loved ones back Caution-home."
Carpenter added to the response with similar sentiments.
"You must ask yourself how you plan to interact with your family while you are deployed,", Carpenter said. "When I am deployed and I call my family, I try to always be in the right mindset and know how I want my family to feel when I hang up the phone.
"Take advantage of every opportunity to speak with your family, but think about what you are going to say and remain positive. If you have a bad day, you have to get yourself in the right mindset before you call your family because you don't want your conversation to have a negative impact on your relationships or bring them down," Carpenter said.
Later in the teleconference, Cadet Ryan Villagomez asked if units continue to train while in a combat zone.
"Our units conduct training at all opportunities so their skills don't degrade during a nine-month deployment," Auten said. "You train with the resources available, always seeking to maintain and improve yourself and your unit."
The leaders also talked to the cadets about the roles and responsibilities of a platoon leader in a deployed environment.
Chaplain (Capt.) Charles Wilson said, that as a platoon leader, the cadets will need to lean on NCOs.
"The platoon sergeants and NCOs are the best way to learn what you need; that goes for all branches," Wilson said.
Auten stressed the importance of an NCO's counsel in making leadership decisions.
"Ignore a senior NCO at your own peril," he said. "That doesn't change that you will be the one in charge, but understand the necessity of a good working relationship with senior NCOs."
The conversation touched upon a platoon leader's typical work day during deployment.
Cadets learned experiences may vary and they could find themselves doing different tasks than they would expect to do.
Interactions like this VTC and conversations with experienced Soldiers they encounter should help shape their understanding of deployment and military life. Just as much as learning battle drills and working through situational training exercises.
Understanding the stress and daily rhythm in various circumstances, such as deployments, should help the cadets gain understanding before they pin on their gold bars as newly commissioned second lieutenants.