The bitter morning winds on Friday, March 28, were not cold enough to stifle the excitement of ROTC students from all over the state.
Army FTX (Field Training Exercise) kicked off in the early morning hours — as early as 3 a.m. for some cadets. The morning started with a ride in an army Blackhawk helicopter that transported the training cadets to the lines where they would perform drills and missions to prepare them for actual military action.
This set of training is especially important to students currently in their junior year of ROTC training because the missions they performed were evaluated to determine what leadership skills these cadets have attained, and this assessment will affect their job placement after college graduation. This is the final training session the juniors will be a part of before they leave for summer camp. The summer camp is six weeks long, and ROTC students will be placed in camps all over the country to perform missions to gain more leadership training.
"There are some sexy jobs in the military, but not everyone can fly helicopters or work in the infantry," said army ROTC recruiter Kevin Boughton. The juniors are graded on how well they handle their leadership responsibilities, and getting high scores, such as an “excellent,” will serve them well after graduation. Grading is based on how effectively the cadet in charge executes the plan, the degree to which the leader communicates with the team, and the management skills employed — not whether the mission is a success.
Senior students serve as mentors to help the junior level students make it through the challenges of leading the missions.
Missions presented to the cadets last 100 minutes. Cadets are expected to react to enemy forces in these drills to protect civilians and to react to attacks. These missions are planned to be as realistic as possible in hopes of accurately preparing the cadets for military action.
Student participants came from all the colleges and universities in the state, topping off at 240 students in attendance. UVSC’s ROTC currently has about 65 students enrolled and sent approximately 30 juniors and seniors to this session of FTX.
The ROTC program focuses on students that know they will be serving in the military as an officer. Leadership is the main focus, an effort to get these cadets ready for whatever comes their way. Once ROTC contracts with a new cadet, money is given to the student for school and other school-related expenses.