FORT KNOX, Ky. – Between the underbrush and their face paint, the Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, are almost undistinguishable. With their kevlars strapped to their chins and blacks shirts hiding their traditional uniforms, these Cadets are playing a very different role from what they’re used to.
Cadet Christian Valentine, University of Toledo, waits for an ambush to begin at the FTX lanes on Aug. 6 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock
It’s been said that with every action there is a reaction, so it’s no surprise that with every ambush someone has to be playing the bad guy. That’s where the Cadets from Charlie Company come in.
“This is an immersive exercise for them,” said Capt. Kenneth Goetz. “Their initial mission is to capture a downed drone and to work with the local insurgent group called SAPA, which the U.S. soldiers are trying to rid from Atropia.”
“They have to set up a quick ambush for the U.S. soldiers who are also trying to retrieve the downed drone and hopefully wreck havoc on them.”
In other words, Cadets from Charlie Company participated as oppositional forces in an attempt to delay the U.S. platoons from retrieving intel the downed drone possessed.
“It’s the complete immersion into an environment where they’re forced to make decisions while they’re tired and while they’re struggling in an unfamiliar setting,” said Goetz. “We’re evaluating their problem solving, their critical thinking and if they’re taking the time to look at a problem and analyze it, then come up with a solution and effectively communicate that solution to others.”
While Cadets held their positions and waited for U.S. platoons to approach, their ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances was quickly put to the test.
Cadet Stockton Obermeyer, Michigan State University, shouts commands between sounds of gunfire whle serving as an opposing force on Aug. 7 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock
“The other platoon ended up flanking our position and we were unable to start the ambush,” said Cadet John Sopper III, Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Our ambush basically turned into a react to contact.”
“We were still trying to complete the mission but we weren’t sure about the size of the element hitting us from the rear,” said Sopper. “Eventually our platoon leader got ahold of the situation and we were able to get online and start attacking the people behind us.”
In situations like these, Cadets credit communication for their ability to effectively react and to successfully carry out a mission.
“Command presence and having a voice to be heard over all the chaos is vital to effectively make decisions in a timely manner and with sound judgment,” said Cadet Elena Wright, University of Washington.
As their second ambush for the day comes to an end, Wright admitted that she was enjoying her time in the FTX lanes with one exception.
“I hate the spiders out here,” said Wright. “They’re not my favorite, but aside from that, if you maintain a positive attitude and make friends with the Cadets in your platoon, you’re going to get through this.”