By: Mattie Cook

Cadet Bismark Oduro-Sarpong, Norfolk State University, sets up on permimeter during squad battle drills at Fort Knox, Ky., July 20. (Photo by Mattie Cook)

FORT KNOX, Ky.,- Cadets of 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp endured high heat indexes to learn squad battle drill tactics in preparation for their Field Leader Training Exercise (FTX) coming up in less than a week.

Cadets of Advanced Camp will be returning to their universities as military science level fours and will be commissioning as Second Lieutenants when they graduate. Important for each, the ability to lead by example and tell their soldiers or fellow students they ‘why’ of training and preparation.

Cadet Dustin Harper, Augusta University, GA., explained squad battle drills.

“We’re out here practicing Squad Battle Drills, which are the basics foundation for how we conduct ourselves on missions. An example is an ambush attack or a squad attack and all these things build upon one another,” he said. “During our FTX coming up we’re going to be give a whole slue of missions that we’re going to have to do, based around these types of movements and maneuvers. In order to accomplish the mission or destroy the enemy we’re going to have to use what we’ve been practicing out here.”

Once these Cadets commission into the big Army as Second Lieutenants, they will serve in many different branches and jobs but Cadet Johnna Sims, University of Wyoming, Wyo., says these drills are important for all soldiers, not just infantry.

Platoon Leader, Cadet Timothy Casey, University of Missouri, briefs the rest of the platoon on a battle plan during squad battle drills at Fort Knox, Ky., July 20. (Photo by Mattie Cook)

“Most people in the military will see a deployment at one point or another so you could have one thing go wrong and find yourself in the middle of a raid or an ambush or anything like that and these skills are the infantry foundation for how to deal with that and how to react,” Sims said. “Teamwork is essential out here. If you have one person who is missing their part of what needs to be done, it throws off every single other person in that line so it’s essential that every person knows what they’re doing, knows what is expected of them and is able to do it.”

Harper expanded on that to say they will take what they learn in these drills into the rest of their Army career.

Cadets of 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp, set out a battle plan on the terrain table during squad battle drills at Fort Knox, Ky., July 20. (Photo by Mattie Cook)

The fundamentals you learn here is the biggest take away; they’re applicable to everything else you do in the Army, whether its the discipline, teamwork or camaraderie. Those are really important foundational things you need and you can apply those to a whole variety of things you’ll face in the field and in your Army career.”

Both Cadets said they prepared back at their home universities for the rigors of Cadet Summer Training (CST) and have advice to future Cadets.

“CST is a very unique experience. You need to be prepared physically because it’s a long month here, but if you’re prepared mentally for those same challenges and get your mind right you’re going to do just fine here,” Harper said. “Don’t come here thinking it’s just something that everyone passes. Not everyone passes. It’s not a gimmie school, it’s one you have to be prepared for and only professionalism is going to carry you through.”

Sims also recommended for future Cadets to reference things like the Ranger handbook and doctrine to fully prepare for squad battle drills. For CST as a whole, she had this to say: “The more you can prep on the frontend, the better you’ll do. When you’re here the vast majority is attitude,” she said. “You can’t fix things you didn’t prep for, but there are little things you can do that will set you apart and help you get ahead: learning Cadences, printing out a TMK, prepping your gear, making sure you have everything. Things that like are really going to take help as far as before you come. Once you get here its all about attitude.”