By: Mattie Cook

Cadets of 5th Regiment, Basic Camp calculate their path during day land navigation on Fort Knox, Ky., July 8. (Photo by Mattie Cook)

Fort Knox, Ky.,- Day eleven of Cadet Summer Training (CST) for 5th Regiment, Basic Camp involved day land navigation; exercises they say would not be successful without the guidance of non-commissioned officer (NCO) Cadre.

Cadets plot points on a map they then must find in the depths of Fort Knox terrain using a compass. A successful mission includes finding three out of four plotted points within the allotted time. Before starting, Cadre give a brief on the do’s and don’ts of land navigation for safe and successful missions.

Staff Sgt. Barlowe Branch says they help guide Cadets.

“If they need guidance we help guide them. But overall we teach them in the back field what they need to know so when they get out here and they’re tested, they’re ready to perform the task and get the job done,” said Branch.

Each year, thousands of Army soldiers from across the country are tasked to Fort Knox as Cadre in support of CST, filling roles in all types of training events including land navigation. Cadre members contribute a wealth of Army experience to train Cadets. The enlisted soldiers bring a perspective to training from the other side of the gold bar. “Officers are the leaders of the Army, but the NCOs are the backbone, their support. That’s the structure,” Branch explained.

Staff Sgt. Barlowe Branch, stops Cadets of 5th Regiment, Basic Camp to assess their performance after completing the day land navigation course on Fort Knox, Ky., July 8. (photo by Mattie Cook)

“Our task as NCO’s is to instruct and teach Cadets the knowledge we have to become the best officers in the U.S. Army. We help them learn to be leaders, not just on the battle field but in the classroom, garrison and so forth,” said Sgt. Michael Parrish.

Cadets Obie Simpson, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Christian Boyd, Fort Valley State University, Ga., said without the guidance of Cadre, they wouldn’t have been successful.

“NCO’s are the Cadre we’re around most of the time. They’re here to teach us everything we need to know. They’re constantly asking what we know and what we’re struggling with. They make sure if you don’t know what you’re doing, they pull us to the side and work with us; giving everyone the same amount of attention and even more so if need be,” said Cadet Boyd. “They gave us a briefing yesterday to give us the basic knowledge for the course then gave us the opportunity to get out on our own but had assistance along the way, so it was really encouraging and helpful. Everything went well today.”

Cadet Simpson said Cadre knowledge is invaluable.

“What they can teach us in a short amount of time is unbelievable. I feel like the knowledge I’m gaining from very experienced individuals is unattainable in any other circumstance because they can teach things in less than a week, sometimes less than four days. It’s been a real blessing and I’m thankful to who they are. Fifth Regiment has the best Cadre hands down,” said Cadet Simpson.

Sgt. Cory Anderson, U.S. Army Reservist from Ohio, instructs Cadets of 5th Regiment, Basic Camp during day land navigation on Fort Knox, KY., July 8. Land navigation will become a basic and crucial skill for Cadets throughout their Army career. (Photo by Mattie Cook)

When asked what they hope to instill in Cadets, Branch and Parrish had this to say.

“One point I would like to instill is learning. Just as we’re giving them the knowledge we have, I hope that as future leaders, when they learn things and move up that they pass the knowledge down to others,” Branch said.

Parrish added, “Leadership. You have to have leadership to be an officer. Seeing from the enlisted side, as an officer you are in the position to lead troops of all kinds. You can’t just step out in front of a formation and lead soldiers if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to have a sense of leadership and confidence to do that.”

Cadets of 5th Regiment Basic Camp will conclude their training July 28 but Cadre will be working through the last day of CST, imparting their experience and knowledge to produce the best future Army officers.