FORT KNOX, Ky. — We ruck through life trying to figure out the lessons along the way, hoping we are becoming a better version of ourselves. Cadets from 9thRegiment, Advanced Camp reflect on why they’re at Cadet Summer Training and what they’ve learned during Field Exercise Training.

Today, the Cadets originally planned to conduct a hasty attack. Cadets set up a defensive position and switch over to an offensive position. However, things change.

Cadet Samuel Suckley, Northern Arizona University, fires at the enemy during an ambush during the Field Training Exercise, August 5, 2018. Photo by Michele Brisco.

“We did get ambushed,” Cadet Lauren Martinez, University of Kentucky, said. “So…that changes the plan, right? We have to think on our feet.”

Field Training Exercises throw curveballs at Cadets, forcing them to face anything – whether they are prepared or not – they might face in combat zones.

“Here, it may just be a blank that goes bang…but we are training for something real,” Cadet Levi Jackson, Texas Tech University, explained from his rear security position.

Cadets are not only learning about tactics and weaponry from Cadre, but also from one another. Skills like leadership, patience, and communication are challenged, along with maintaining morale.

Cadet Anduan Griffin, University of Mississippi, taking charge of his squad during their Field Training Exercise, August 5, 2018. Photo by Michele Brisco.

“The hardest part out here is motivation,” Cadet Jackson admitted. “There’s some days you wake up and you feel completely rocked and ready to roll… and then there are other days you crawl out of the bed and you’re like, ‘Oh god, how am I going to make it to the end?’”

Nevertheless, he finds ways to stay motivated when the heat is high and the hills are steep. Cadet Jackson wakes up in the morning and finds five positive things about the morning.

“My five positive things when I crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. [were]: it didn’t rain, I got good food, …we have two more days until we go back to the barracks, I woke up, [and] my clothes dried off from yesterday,” Cadet Jackson said, counting each attribute on his hand.

“We’re all here for the same purpose – to become lieutenants in the world’s greatest army,” Jackson expressed. “Don’t let some stupid little 30-day training get you down.”

While his motivation comes from mentality, Cadet Affoue “K” Kouakou, San Diego University, finds motivation from religion.

Cadets from 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp during their final days of the Field Training Exercise, August 5, 2018. Photo by Michele Brisco.

“I joined because of a personal call, because I’m Christian and I felt like God asked me to join. I also joined because I wanted to serve my country,” Cadet Kouakou revealed.

Kouakou’s middle name is Debora, she shared that Deborah is one of the judges of the Bible and a military leader. This was her sign that God called Kouakou to serve.

“I’ve learned that to make it in this environment, I need to have character. I need to come out of my bubble…[and] have some presence when I’m in [a] leadership [role],” Kouakou said.