Fort Knox, Ky. - - When Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, visited Cadet Summer Training (CST) last June, he admitted this training was "far more intensive and challenging" than the camp he attended at Fort Bragg in 1981.

"The training they're getting here is better than what I got when I was a Cadet. What they're doing today - the Cadets are far more capable and just really impressive," he said.

But that doesn't mean you stop improving.

Following Townsend's directive to ensure our future Army Officers are as experienced and knowledgeable about basic Soldier tasks as the Soldiers they will eventually lead, the CST planning team have reinvigorated the training schedule.

For this year's CST, Lt. Col. Robert Schiller, the G37 CST Lead Planner, said there is an increased focus on basic Soldier tasks, those common core tasks that every Soldier must be proficient at, "so the Cadets have the same basic combat training experience, as far as the common core tasks, as Soldiers have."

"So how do we get there," Schiller continued, "we concentrate on the common core tasks, we concentrate on creating a rigorous training environment that challenges the Cadets."

CHANGES TO CST

This year's model increases CST from 31 days to a 37-day model. The six additional days include two more days of basic rifle marksmanship (BMR) training and the addition of two new training events - buddy-team live fire and hand grenade training.

Traditionally, these two training events have been taught during phase two of the Basic Officer Leader Course, called BOLC B. Adding this training to phase one of BOLC, or BOLC A, ensures Cadets have ample training on those common core tasks.

"To get all these tasks done, they could do it at BOLC B, which is their Officer branch school, we just figured out a way to do it at BOLC A," Schiller said, "Cadets have never gone down a live fire range at CST prior to this year."

"We're making Cadets shoot - making them better shooters. That's basic Army stuff right there," said Schiller. He also explained they changed the qualification standard for BRM. This year Cadets will qualify on a 300 meter pop-up target range.

"We're throwing 14,000 hand grenades this summer. That's two hand grenades per Cadet. We've created a rigorous training environment that will challenge the Cadets," said Schiller.

U.S. Army Cadet Command's Command Sgt. Maj. Mario O. Terenas explains "CST helps our Cadets to truly understand what this business is all about - its not just about academia and school, but about becoming a lethal and agile Officer for an army that is charged with closing with, engaging and destroying an enemy."

"I think the way we've adjusted this year's CST is exactly where we need to be - it gets at a more lethal and agile Officer, one that can go out from CST19 to become an Officer that understands exactly what a Soldier goes through in Basic Training," he said.

There have been other changes to CST this year - including the addition of a new Platoon Ranking Tool.

"Brig. Gen. Brown was the leading force in this," Schiller explained, "Last summer there were informal ranking tools used, but they varied between platoons."

Schiller continued, "so, they were doing a good job last year, but we standardized it this year. I want the Cadets to understand they are going to be assessed by leadership, competency and physical skills."

This tool will be standardized across platoons.

"The three things I want Cadets to know are, one, there are no secrets, you know the tasks, conditions and standards," said Schiller.

"The second thing is to know there is a standardized platoon ranking tool and these are the 3 things you are going to be assessed on: leadership, competence and physical.

"The third thing Cadets need to understand is that when they're looked at by their OCTs, the biggest thing we're looking for is to develop and assess your leadership, competence and attributes, that's the number one goal," said Schiller.

Terenas added some advice for Cadets this summer, "Keep your eyes on the target - that target is to become an Officer in the United States Army. Do not become discouraged by failure, but push through it," said Terenas, "Like the CG says, #alwaysflytheairplane."