Fort Bliss Cadet Troop Leader Training program

By Sgt. Ezra CamarenaOctober 11, 2023

Cadet conducts convoy with 4-27 FA
United States Military Academy cadet, Keegan Ryan, conducts convoy operations with Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, August 3, 2021. Ryan spent his summer in the Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) program paired with a junior officer. This training is designed to give cadets hands on experience in different Army branches to see what it is like as a platoon leader. (U.S. Army Photo by: Staff Sgt. Michael West) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Michael West) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BLISS, Texas – 1st Armored Division gives cadets from Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and military schools, like the United States Military Academy, the opportunity to be immersed in the day-to-day day operations of Army life, allowing them to serve in leadership positions as part of a U.S. Army Cadet Command summer training program called Cadet Troop Leader Training.

In the program, cadets assume the role of a platoon leader under the mentorship of a 1st AD officer sponsor for three weeks during the summer.

Capt. Thomas Hinkle, CTLT lead for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD, explains that the significance of CTLT is showing cadets what the U.S. Army is really about.

"Cadets come when they're rising juniors in college and pair up with a lieutenant," Hinkle stated. "The CG's directive is for the cadets to assume a leadership role, rather than purely shadowing a platoon leader providing a firsthand experience of their branch."

Additionally, Hinkle described how the cadets arrive at America's Tank Division from all across the country.

"Cadets come from literally all over. The first cohort of cadets is usually from West Point. As the summer continues, cadets arrive from ROTC programs across the country," Hinkle discussed.

The program itself is voluntary, except for West Point cadets.

"For West Point, they all have to do a CTLT summer rotation because it's part of their curriculum and a graduation requirement," he stated. "For ROTC cadets, they receive a certain number of slots, which are voluntary, and a great leadership opportunity if they decide to participate."

Two CTLT cadet participants from West Point, Cadet Lt. Madeline Biscaichipy and Cadet Lt. Kevin Fernandez, provided feedback from their CTLT experience with 1st AD.

Biscaichpy, a Los Angeles, California, native who desires to branch Field Artillery, said she had a fantastic time at Fort Bliss.

"It's amazing to see how many Soldiers work here on Fort Bliss and how much gets done daily, especially from 2-3 Field Artillery Battalion where I was assigned, and other tenant units," she proclaimed.

Fernandez, a Miami, Florida, native who desires to branch into engineering or cyber, described how this program allows experiential learning of how the Army operates beyond classroom academics and word-of-mouth experience from West Point instructors.

"We are always told West Point is not the Army. West Point's curriculum focuses on training and teaching young officers, especially academics, but coming here, it's our first time seeing what a real active-duty unit is doing structured toward winning America's wars. I've been lucky enough to hop around from staff shops to actual line platoons and see how the Army is truly a team of teams," he added.

Overall, the CTLT program is mutually beneficial for the Division and cadets. Hinkle discussed the magnitude of cadet accomplishments through the program.

"Talking with the different sponsors, battalion staff, and command teams, who feel cadet contributions are well received and appreciated. The cadets are active participants and contributors during meetings," said Hinkle.

Col. Kirby Dennis, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team commander, summed up the sentiments of the CTLT cadets best when he said, "During my interactions with the cadets, they're always asking very, very well-thought-out questions. You would not expect these questions from a junior college student, yet they ask them."