by: Mattie Cook
Cadets of 1st Squad help each other get to the top of the wall at the rope bridge obstacle at the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC) on Fort Knox, Ky., July 13. (Photo by Mattie Cook)
Fort Knox, Ky.,- Arriving as strangers, Cadets of 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp completed the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC) on day two of Cadet Summer Training (CST) to learn about each other, build teamwork and create bonds that will last through the rest of training.
Cadet Amber Rose, University of New Mexico, looks back to congratulate her teammates after getting to the top of the rope bridge wall at the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC) on Fort Knox, Ky., July 13. (Photo by Mattie Cook)
Cadets of Charlie Company, 2nd platoon, first squad set themselves apart from others by hitting each obstacle as if they had known each other forever, operating with communication and adaptability; not to mention fast completion times.
Cadet Amber Rose, University of New Mexico, said getting the job done no matter what isn’t the only goal at FLRC.
“We’re putting ourselves to a challenge to get to know each other and get ready for the challenges of the field,” Rose said. ” Establishing relationships in the first or second day is really important for how you perform during camp. We don’t worry about the big thing ahead, we’ve just been focusing on the task at hand and we all communicate well and seem to have a positive outlook.”
If given a full effort, Cadets will march away from FLRC knowing more about their teammates personalities, strengths and weaknesses. However, platoon Observer, Controller, Trainer (OTM) and Master Trainer, Sgt. 1st Class, Patrick Bannon says this squad has something he doesn’t see very often this early in training.
“I think it’s a common goal that they all see, not just to survive camp but the need to be successful in a new unit or team environment and give into the team mentality,” Bannon said. “They’re really falling into that role very nicely and I’m very impressed so far. We’re only on our fourth obstacle and I get goose bumps every time I see them get through. It’s awesome.”
This group of Cadets works together with camaraderie that more resembles day 20 of training, not day two. Cadet Cierra Thomas, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, pinpointed what she thinks is contributing to their success.
Cadet Cierra Thomas, Florida Agricultural and Mechanial University, crosses the rope bridge at the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC) on Fort Knox, Ky., July 13, during Cadet Summer Training (CST). (Photo by Mattie Cook)
“We’ve spent three years already in ROTC so we’ve learned how to work with all types of people different than us. I think our successfulness here at Advanced Camp really comes from a passion for officership. We are so passionate about becoming Second Lieutenants that nothing can stop us,” Thomas said. “No matter what school you’re from, what you like and dislike and what your strengths and weaknesses are we’re going to make it through.”
When asked what challenges the squad has faced on the course, Cadet John Beaulaurier, University of Washington, had this to say, “On one obstacle we lost a person and half our equipment [due to penalties] so we had to figure it out with one board instead of two to get across the obstacle. I think it was just tougher for us to recover from that initial loss and not getting upset over that. It’s easier when its just a physical discomfort, but that was more emotional discomfort,” Beaulaurier said.
Even with losing a person and equipment to penalties, the squad completed the mission well under the allotted completion time of 25 minutes.
Cadet John Fioiti, University of Michigan, and Matthew Whitehouse, University of Louisville, cross double culvert obstacle at the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC) on Fort Knox, Ky., July 13, during Cadet Summer Training (CST). (Photo by Mattie Cook)
“I’m looking for exactly this, the adaptability and the resiliency, because when they get through this and the garrison environment they’re put in a tactical environment which is a whole different type of leadership,” Bannon said. “Keeping that team mentality, trying to create the best plan to look out for their welfare and the accomplishment of the mission really is leadership. These Cadets are going to commission and become Second Lieutenants in the Army and stand in front of a platoon. To me, being an NCO, that’s the most important thing, is the soldiers. I want to have the best leaders taking care of my soldiers.”
Cadet Matthew Whitehouse, University of Louisville, was able to build on Bannon’s comments and sum up the larger take-away from Advanced Camp.
“We’re all here to graduate this camp so we can commission as Second Lieutenants, but we have to put that aside. If we act like people that only want to get through for ourselves so that we can graduate, it’s not going to work out,” Whitehouse said. “It’s all about looking out for your battle buddy and listening to each other.”
Time will tell if the Cadets of 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Charlie Company, 2nd Platoon, 1st squad can keep up the momentum for the rest of camp, but it’s obvious their already fast forming bonds, communication and common goals make them the squad to watch.