FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets of the 8th Regiment Advanced Camp completed their final day in the Panther FTX site today, July 22, before moving onto Grizzly.
Their morning began with a Movement to Contact drill, a mission in which Cadets maneuver through the FTX area in search of their enemy. Once the enemy is spotted, the fire begins.
There’s a lot that goes into making an FTX mission successful; from keeping your squad’s spacing in tact to ensuring communication between the platoon is clear, there’s a lot that can be learned from these drills.
Perhaps the most important thing that comes from Movement to Contact is the strengthening of one’s mental agility, though; an ability to stay on your toes.
“I think mental agility is really the biggest thing,” Cadet Chase Fletcher, a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said. “Having confidence in yourself and trusting all these people who are with you.”
A Berryville, Virginia native, Fletcher said that Movement to Contact offers one of the best opportunities to build your mental agility.
Cadet Stephanie Smith, from Yelm, Washington, is on the same page as Fletcher when it comes to mental agility.
“The most important value Cadets can have is mental agility,” the Central Washington University student said. “Keep thinking, don’t shut down. Keep thinking about the next step forward.”
Still, others found importance and value in other aspects of Movement to Contact.
“Putting us through these drills, it gives us a lot of experience,” Cadet Erin Dietz, from Springboro, Ohio, said. “It gives us the leadership experience and how to develop, and become actual leaders, so that when we’re giving the commands, we know what we’re doing and we’ve earned their [the soldiers] respect.”
Dietz, who attends Ohio University, said that these drills have taught her to be both a follower and a leader. She keeps a “do what needs to be done” mentality so that it’s easier, not only on whoever is in leadership, but on the whole platoon.
The Advanced Camp Cadets go through the FTX in phases. There are crawl, walk and run phases, and each FTX site is its own phase.
Panther, where the 8th Regiment finished up today, is the walk phase.
Grizzly is the run.
Gone are the days of Cadre holding the Cadets’ hands through their missions; it’s time for the Cadets to keep a solid head on their shoulders and completely trust what they’ve learned at their school and this summer.
Once the Cadets finish in Grizzly, it’s seven days till they graduate.
Then, rather then running through the woods, they’ll be running to their family.