by Brianna Saucier
Cedarville’s Army ROTC program traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky to meet with cadets from Wright State University and the University of Dayton from April 5 to April 8 to conduct their annual Field Training Exercise (FTX).
The purpose of FTX is to prepare juniors for new leadership positions and Advanced Camp — a month long summer boot camp — while also developing senior cadets’ ability to organize large scale operations.
With over 150 cadets, three battalions, and only four days, the seniors from all the schools had coordinated the weekend’s events months in advance — starting back in January.
Cedarville’s weekend agenda was organized by senior Battalion Operations Officer Ralen Dupris with assistance from senior Battalion Commander Sam Quattrone.
“We got to incorporate our own vision and ideas and experiences that made each [battle scenario] different,” Quattrone said. “We emphasized security, and prepared juniors for advance camp.”
Quattrone explained further the challenges faced; each school trained differently and there were some conflicts in how to prioritize their time there. In the end though, their hard work paid off.
“An overall highlight was just seeing how well our cadets performed over the weekend and outperformed the other schools with professionalism, confidence, composure, tactical knowledge, and interpersonal tact” he said.
This was no easy task, as cadets began every day at 5am and ended at 11pm, every hour dedicated to increasing their physical fitness and improving their knowledge and skill set in platoon operations, weapons maintenance, land navigation.
The objective of first night was to assimilate the schools and assign leadership positions and tasks that rotated throughout their stay.
The training was altered from previous years as the expectations for Advanced Camp have shifted to counter new enemies and conventional forces, not just terrorist threats.
Some of the weekend’s events included STX lanes, or Situational Training Exercises, that simulated combat on an enemy with M16s and M249s.
STXs were run all day Friday — over 13 hours of simulated gunfire and mission planning with 50 pounds of equipment on their backs.
Saturday consisted of land navigation. Cadets were given six coordinates and had to find at least half of them in the allotted time.
Last year, Cedarville’s battalion was the only school to have all of their cadets find their points within the time frame.
As a result, the battalion upped the challenge this year with new training grounds and larger distances between points.
Cadets had two opportunities to accomplish the exercise during the day, with sophomores and juniors returning that night to complete it again with little to no visibility.
The final day consisted of an obstacle course with nine sections, all completed with no netting or harnesses: the 50 foot tall ladder, classic low crawl under wire, the weaver (a wooden obstacle), and scaling a wall.
The schools then selected their top cadets to compete in the course, with Cedarville coming in first by over 30 seconds with senior Ty Mathews, sophomore Dani Lesko, freshman Zach Ashley and junior Scott Grimes.
Once again Lesko outperformed in a male-dominated activity, receiving recognition by officers from the other schools as well.
Cedarville student and Battalion Executive Officer Landon McBride commented on the team’s performance.
“We won FTX with our attitude,” he said. “It’s always hard to have 150 cadets come together and make them work.”
McBride went on to commend the cadets from Cedarville.
“Our program was far better when dealing with uncomfortable weather, long days, land navigation in snow and freezing cold… yet our cadets were still motivated. They saw the purpose in doing the training.”
At the end of the weekend, Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Bryant announced the new Chain of Command — the new leadership positions of the junior class.
This new line of leaders was determined by a combination of peer reviews, performance evaluations and input from their instructors.
“[My highlight was] watching cadets emerge from the woodwork, and completely surprise me with their level of expertise, and see them step forward and own that leadership role.” Dupris said. “The whole reason I wanted this role was to lead people and watch them grow into capable leaders.”
Brianna Saucier is a freshman English major and Campus reporter for Cedars. She enjoys soccer, photography, and Army ROTC.