FORT KNOX, Ky. – Mission Context Leadership Exercise (MCLX) is instilling Cadet Leaders Course Cadets with the adaptability and strength to endure conflict by challenging them in a tactical environment for 11 days.
MCLX places the Cadets on a peacekeeping mission in the country, Atropia, where they are required to use their training to cross language, cultural and political barriers as they would if they were deployed.
Sgt. Carl Dupre, Ft. Carson, Colorado, who has been deployed three times, role-plays as a village electrician. He says his experience is helpful when engaging his role.
“Having been deployed before really helps when engaging my character because having experience with different cultures aids in accurately portraying them to Cadets,” Dupre said, “The more real their training is here, the more prepared the Cadets will be when they are deployed.”
MCLX allows Cadets to experience firsthand what being a leader in the Army is like. It is clear to Pfc. Jacob Riverman, Ft. Carson, Colorado, they are still learning.
“They’re new and getting the feel of it, but they need to learn how to be an actual soldier. That means learning to take charge, be in command and adapt to their environments,” Riverman stated.
A new squad leader is appointed to each platoon everyday so everyone has the chance to experience commanding a large unit.
“Not stepping on anyone’s toes can be a challenge, a lot of us are in the same grade in college and everyone wants to be a leader, but you have to know when it’s your turn,” said Cdt. Shane Small of Central Washington University.
Remaining focused was another difficulty said Small.
“The army’s motto when moving elements this big is ‘hurry up and wait’, so staying engaged, always being productive and not sitting around can be a challenge.”
The Cadets also take classes such as security, key leader engagement, information management and village assessment during MCLX to develop the skills they need for their interactions in the villages.
“Learning how to work well with people is one of the key factors to being successful here,” said Cdt. Samantha Frank,
University of Louisville, “I think this environment is beneficial because at our schools we only get one weekend per semester to have a field exercise. You don’t have the hands on experience you want because of classwork, so I feel like being out here for a long time is allowing me to learn more than I did in a full year of ROTC.”
Despite the difficulties they are facing, Cdt. Johnny Pingshaw, Stetson University, is finding he is capable of rising to any challenge.
“My experience here is helping me realize I can handle anything set before me. My platoon has also helped me discover what I’m really good at and what I’m not, so I can develop into a capable leader in the field.”
To the Cadets, Riverman has this advice to give.
“Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and push it to the next step. Don’t overthink it either. Do what you’re told, what you’re trained to do, and you’ll be fine.”