Building Future Leaders: Area Cadets Train at Fort McCoy
By 88th Readiness DivisionSeptember 29, 2020
FORT McCOY, Wis. – Getting your sea legs is part of learning how to effectively function on a vessel on the water. Honing your platoon-level skills is part of learning how to be a good Army leader.Nearly 100 ROTC Cadets from Marquette University’s Golden Eagle Battalion were here for four days the end of September to execute a series of missions in varying terrain and under various conditions. The Cadets conducted weapons qualification, a situational training exercise, six situational platoon missions, land navigation and Ranger challenge, culminating in a platoon competition on the final day. A little more than a dozen cadre supported the Cadets.Marquette University’s ROTC program also includes the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Concordia University, UW at Parkside and Milwaukee School of Engineering. Also joining The Golden Eagle Battalion here for training were UW at Stevens Point, UW Madison, UW Oshkosh, UW La Crosse, Northern Michigan University and Michigan Technical University.Lt. Col. John Kiriazis, professor of military science at Marquette University, explained that the training especially helps the third-year Cadets ready for their summer training at Fort Knox, Ky., a requirement to be commissioned.According to Cadet Mary Claire Simutig, in conducting platoon-level operations “we’re training the 3s (third year) to be successful at summer camp so they get a high rating. We’ve figured out a formula that results in a high success rate at summer camp. We certify their skills before they get to camp.”The fourth-year Cadet from Lake Bluff, Ill., went on to say that the training teaches infantry skills and “helps get the 1s and 2s (first- and second-year Cadets) invested in ROTC.”A lot of pre-planning goes into a successful field training exercise, especially having to deal with a pandemic. Simutig explained that a robust COVID-19 mitigation and treatment plan is in place to “prioritize health while maintaining training value.”One of the missions was an assault on an opposing force. Cadet Alxy Pedraza led the OPFOR. She describes the training as “tough. It sucks, but in a good way. It definitely prepares you for camp.”Pedraza is a senior at UW Parkside pursuing a double major in political science and criminal justice. The Racine native learned about ROTC through an informational meeting on campus. After joining, she came to enjoy the camaraderie. “It’s a tight-knit group.”Initially Pedraza’s parents were unsure about her decision to join ROTC, expecting the worst. “They were originally not happy,” the Racine native said. But as she explained the benefits of the program, her parents supported her. “My mom became my biggest fan and is very supportive of my decision.” She is the first in her family to attend college and join the military.For Pedraza, the most challenging part of the training is working with peers. “Everyone wants to be a leader, and it’s difficult to step up and support a peer,” she said.Pedraza found being part of the OPFOR “my favorite part of the training. We text the MS III (Military Science) and see the training from a different perspective with a different set of eyes” from when she went through the training last year.Kiriazis applauded the Fort McCoy training facilities. “We’ve always had a fantastic training experience at Fort McCoy,” he said.About Army ROTCArmy ROTC produces approximately 70 percent of the officers entering the Army each year and is available through nearly 1,000 college campuses nationwide ranging from Harvard to Berkley -- from Tufts to Ohio State. Army ROTC teaches leadership and discipline, management techniques, cultural awareness and problem solving. Those who participate in Army ROTC and subsequently serve as Army officers develop leadership and managerial skills that last a lifetime.