Road to war
ROTC cadets attend spring FTX
| Kelsea Renz managing editor |
The night was cold and clear. Wildlife crept through the underbrush, making the smallest whisper of their presence. A small breeze rustled the leaves in the woods surrounding the concrete bunker where the enemy forces were hiding. Cadets surrounded the bunker, some teams securing the perimeter while some teams slunk through the trees behind the small building to attack. Out of the silence, shots rang out, the slap of paint on trees echoing throughout the area.
“Contact! Bound forward!”
After the paintballs stopped flying and enemy and cadets alike had “died”, the cadets stood victorious, knowing they had completed their objective.
This battle, one of many during the spring field training exercise (FTX), was a training resource for the cadets of Pitt State’s ROTC program.
“This training is mainly to get the MSIIIs ready for the summer when they go to LDAC,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Lambert, professor of military science. “But there’s training not only for these folks, but also for the MSIVs.”
The MSIV – senior – cadets played the enemy as the South Atropian People’s Army (SAPA) who were attacking on American soil for the duration of the FTX.
“Our main mission right now is to help them in their training,” said Matthew Gallagher, senior in communication. “So we play the enemy and tried to make it as realistic for them as possible.”
The training was set up so that each side, the SAPA enemy and the American troops, would come into contact with one another while doing training exercises.
“It creates a force-on-force-type situation. From the MSIVs’ perspective, they’re either conducting a patrol themselves or going to a key piece of terrain,” Lambert said. “And my staff and I have synced it so they’ll meet.”
In order for the FTX to work properly and be beneficial for all involved, the two groups had to be kept separate the entire time. Both groups received road-to-war briefs that were, in effect, opposite and allowed them to meet when necessary.
The MSIIIs and below were given orders and the cadre took them where they needed to go to execute those orders. The MSIVs, however, were only told where to be.
“The MSIVs have had to plan how they get their troops to where we need them to be for the training,” Lambert said. “They’ve had to establish their own area as a patrol base.”
Sometimes, though, even the best plans went awry, or times were not synced correctly.
“The MSIIIs still got training from the planning process,” Lambert said. “And there are always times when plans don’t work.”
Most of the cadets agreed that this FTX had high training value, from the use of paintball weapons and from having an enemy who was also planning and attacking.
“It was a good chance for the MSIIIs to work on certain skills. It’s also a solid chance for younger cadets to see a more realistic side of the Army,” said Kenan Lousch, junior in criminal justice. “It’s just a good experience for refining our leadership skills.”