FORT KNOX, Ky. – With sounds of gunfire and shouting in the distance, Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Alpha Company, 2nd squad participated in Squad Tactical Exercises (STX) on July 28.

Cadet Leyla Turcios, Costal Carolina University, applies face paint before participating in an ambush on July 28 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock.

In STX, Cadets apply the skills they’ve acquired during their time at CST to execute exercises such as reconnaissance, ambush and recovery.

“We’re executing on a platoon size, which means we’re taking smaller elements and focusing on bigger sizes to see how Cadets respond to training,” said 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Prol.

“The Army occupies and trains in three phases of training: crawl, walk and run,” said Prol. “Right now we’re in the crawl phase where Cadre are highly influencing the Cadets’ decision making.”

The crawl phase allows Cadets to lead exercises while Cadre standby and provide feedback or clarification if necessary. Although the Cadets are carrying out the exercises themselves, they are still able to ask Cadre members for help.

“We want to show them what right looks like,” said Prol. “Throughout the day we’re slowly releasing control of them to see if they’re grasping and learning throughout their time in the STX lanes.

Cadets are being evaluated on their competencies and attributes, which spans their leadership, development, achievement, character presence and intellect.

Cadet Eddie Muro, California Baptist University, holds his position as he and his fellow Cadets prepare for an ambush on July 28 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock.

However, out in the STX lanes, communication is key to a squad’s success.

“Communication is vital,” said Cadet Michael Conway, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “If someone isn’t able to yell “lift fire” or “shift fire,” which signals someone to stop firing or move their field of fire, someone could potentially get shot or harmed.”

In addition to communication, Conway admitted that Cadets also tend to struggle with adapting to Army culture as a whole.

“You’re training from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday,” said Conway. “You have to move quick, train quick, adapt and overcome. It takes a toll on you.”

Despite the obstacles Cadets have to face throughout their time in Advanced Camp, both mental and physical, Conway credits his fellow Cadets as his motivation to push through and finish strong.

“You get really close with the people in your platoon because you’re training with them every moment of everyday,” said Conway. “You count on them and they count on you. If someone needs help, I’m on it. Taking care of people is what I do.”