FORT KNOX, Ky. – What do you call getting woken up bright and early to navigate difficult terrain in order to successfully complete Advanced Camp? For Seventh Regiment, Advanced Camp, this is called just another day in paradise.

Cadets spent the morning of July 11 completing their Land Navigation test, a must-pass requirement for Cadet Summer Training, with simply a map, compass and their intuition to guide the way – no Google Maps allowed.

Cadet Clayton Goupil, Liberty University, drops to the ground and gets into position as his platoon practices squad battle drills on July 11 at Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Emily Peacock)

“Yesterday we completed the written portion of the land navigation test,” said Cadet Janine Donnelly, Washington State University. “The written part tested how well we do with a map and map reading.”

Cadets must pass the written portion of land navigation to then be allowed to participate in the physical land navigation portion.

“Today we did the hands-on land navigation test, where we received maps, compasses, and a list of points on a map” said Donnelly. “We had about four hours to find four different points out in the woods.”

Donnelly mentioned that she was satisfied with how she navigated the woods, stating that she successfully found all four points and returned to camp with an hour to spare.

After completing land navigation, Cadets from Seventh Regiment participated in Squad Battle Drills (SBD).

“Squad battle drills are basically rehearsals for field tactics,” said newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Brett Hughett. “In a few days we’ll be going out into the field to do combat and drills. This prepares them so that when the do make contact or when they have to do a mission they know what to do instinctively.”

The skills Cadets learn in SBD will be useful once they begin their Field Training Exercises (FTX). FTX is a Cadet-lead tactical environment that mirrors what Cadets could expect on future deployments.

Cadet Janine Donnelly, Washington State University, kneels in the grass during squad battle drills on July 11 at Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Emily Peacock)

Throughout their SBD as well as their time in the field, Cadets are evaluated based on their ability to lead and their attributes and competencies, which includes sound judgment and mental agility.

“Cadre are evaluating them based on their leadership as opposed to their ability of tactics,” said Hughett.

When asked what Cadets tend to struggle with most during SBD, Hughett talked about communication.

“It’s usually a communications error,” said Hughett. “Squad battle drills gives you the ability to communicate beforehand, but in some cases the leader will know what’s happening and the lowest level won’t.”

Ultimately, Hughett hopes that by participating in SBD, Cadets will learn the importance of unit cohesion.

“When they get out there, units tend to fall apart – they don’t know what to do and they don’t tend to listen to one leader,” said Hughett. “This helps them to follow and to also lead.”

After completing SBD, Cadet Donnelly as well as the Cadets from Seventh Regiment, Advanced Camp will participate in a second land navigation exercise similar to the one they completed in the morning. This time, however, Cadets will have to find their points in the dark.