FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadet William Binning of Texas A&M University says being out in the field for about 14 days has taken a toll on everyone in his platoon.

“People are tired.  It’s hard to motivate them.  People are hot and exhausted from the lack of sleep and running around everywhere,” he expressed.   

After rigorous days of conducting battle exercises in the wooded forests of Fort Knox, however, an exhausted Cadet Binning and the other Cadets of 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, received an encouraging morale boost from Gen. David G. Perkins, Commanding General of United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), when he visited Cadet Summer Training (CST) July 24.

Gen. Perkins’ visit with the Cadets in the field began with a briefing from the platoon leader of 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp.

He then spoke to the Cadets about the significance of the relationship held between newly commissioned second lieutenants and non-commissioned officers.

The platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Co., 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp presents a terrain board created by Cadets during their Field Training Exercise to Command Sgt. Maj. Davenport and Gen. Perkins at Fort Knox, Ky. July 24. Photo by Sade’ Wilson

“The NCOs are there to make them better.  They realize a lieutenant does not know everything he or she needs to know.  They need to know that the NCOs grade themselves on how good that lieutenant becomes, not how much they know the first day they walk in,” Gen. Perkins said.

Next, Gen. Perkins emphasized the high value of the Cadets recognizing not only the strengths and weaknesses of their subordinates, but the strengths and weaknesses that are in themselves.

“What we expect of them is that they realize their role as a leader which means they have to set the standard, that all eyes are on them, that they have to be the example of moral and ethical leadership, that they need to be able to always choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and that they are focusing on getting the mission done while taking care of their Soldiers,” he shared.   

After answering Cadets’ questions regarding leadership, the ROTC program, and their futures as second lieutenants, Gen. Perkins sat down with them to eat MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) for lunch.  

Binning says it was an example of true leadership when Gen. Perkins made time to casually talk with his platoon.

“Seeing him come out here – it shows that he cares.  He’s leading like he’s not in power and that’s something that great leaders always do,” Binning said.

Cadet Ashley Flood, a student at the University of South Dakota, agrees.   

Gen. Perkins responds to a Cadet’s question during his visit to Fort Knox, Ky. July 24. Photo by Sade’ Wilson

“I think as a leader, you truly have to care about your Soldiers.  It really shows that he does care about our future success and the future leaders the Army will have,” she said.  

Flood says the visit motivated her to strive for preparedness before she commissions.

“One of the biggest things he said today was be prepared to learn and come prepared to learn and don’t be too cocky or too confident.  I think that’s a huge thing.  You always have to be ready to learn and ready to take on new roles and tasks that you’re not familiar with because if you don’t come prepared to learn, you’re not going to do well.  You’re not going to succeed,” Flood expressed.

After being inspired by Gen. Perkins, Binning says the troubles that came from being out in the field allowed him to look forward to his future military career.  

“Having the ability to ask what questions we wanted to him… I learned so much just from him explaining simply one thing, like the best common mindset you can have as a platoon leader, because he knows what he’s talking about,” Binning shared.  “He’s a four-star general.  Basically, his word was truth.”