FORT HOOD, Texas -- Nearly 100 future Army officers conducted a field training exercise here from Oct. 22-25, preparing for the annual Cadet Summer Training camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
“I hope that they can learn how to work together and that what we do is important,” Col. Mike Eliassen, professor of military science at Tarleton State University, said. “It’s a people business, so you have to work with people from all different backgrounds.”
Twenty-seven senior-level cadets from Texas A&M University – Central Texas, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Prairie View A&M University planned, prepared and executed the four-day Reserve Officers’ Training Corps exercise, training 65 lower-level cadets on infantry tactics.
“We want to see leaders making decisions and leaders being succinct, concise and clear in the orders that they give and the directions that they give,” Eliassen said.
He said most of the cadets from TAMUCT are former Fort Hood Soldiers, while cadets from the other schools are inexperienced. Together, he said, it is interesting to see how they work together and learn from one another. The inexperienced cadets often look to the former Soldiers for guidance and how to lead. Meanwhile, the experienced cadets have to figure out how to lead cadets with little to no experience in the field.
“They’ve been going through hands-on missions and given the opportunity to show their leadership,” Cadet 1st Sgt. Shaelyn Wimberley, TAMCUT ROTC, said.
The cadre of the schools observe everything, while also providing assistance and advice. Despite receiving rain on day two of the exercise, motivation remained high throughout the weekend. Cadet executive officer Alexandra Dale, UMHB ROTC, said it was helpful that training was pretty constant, so there was no time for boredom.
Training throughout the weekend consisted of land navigation, patrolling, reconnaissance and surveillance, then concluded Sunday with a four-mile ruck march and a one-rope bridge crossing. The one-rope bridge crossing is normally reserved for the Ranger Challenge, but they decided to show the cadets how it is done. The idea of the activity is to show the cadets how to cross a water span or deep ravine, which someone must cross to attach a rope to the other side. They began by showing the cadets how to make a Swiss seat with a rappelling rope. Using a carabiner, the cadets attached themselves to the rope and pulled themselves across a stream.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Cadet Iris Jenkins, PVAMU ROTC, said. “I think I’m leaving with a lot of knowledge.”
Eliassen said being an ROTC cadre is the best job in the Army. He said there’s no greater joy than taking inexperienced young men and women and creating second lieutenants of character, preparing them to commission and lead successful Army careers.
“You’re teaching the next generation of leaders. We do this for God and country, old glory, mom and apple pie and collard greens, and our brother and sister to our left and right,” Eliassen added. “We’re charged with creating leaders who understand that they will hold America’s most precious national treasure in our hands – America’s sons and daughters.”