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FORT KNOX, Ky. – With 35 pounds on their back, camouflage on their faces and the dark morning sky above them, 10th Regiment Advanced Camp Cadets foot marched eight miles to TAA Densberger to prepare for their next field training exercise (FTX) lane. 

On this particular movement, Cadets silently marched in two columns in what is known as a tactical formation to prepare them for combat situations after they commission. 

10th Regiment Advanced Camp Cadet Laura Lopez, College of the Holy Cross, chats with her battle buddies after completing the eight mile road march at Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. | Photo by Mary Kate Griffin, CST Public Affairs Office.

“During a tactical formation, we avoid enemy detection by remaining silent,” said Cadet Brandon Piccinini, attending Auburn University. “We also don’t wear lights so that we can maintain stealth in the dark.”

Foot marches present many challenges for Cadets, both physical and mental. Some Cadets have a unique way of overcoming those challenges by creating some distraction.

“I sing to myself,” said Jordan Dorsey, a Cadet at Truman State University. 

Cadet Piccinini said that he plays Jenga in his head. 

Other Cadets just focus on the march itself. 

“I don’t think about much but I try not to always look down the road,” said Cadet Connor Anderson from the University of South Florida. “Instead I stare at the person in front of me so that I am not focused on the distance that’s left.”

A 10th Regiment Advanced Camp Cadet searches his rucksack for a clean uniform after completing his eight mile road march at Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. | Photo by Mary Kate Griffin, CST Public Affairs Office.

While the ruck provides individual challenges, Cadets still use the support of each other to complete the objective. One Cadet from the University of Portland explained how on one steep incline Cadets remained cohesive and positive.

“At one point we had to narrow our formation because there were deep ditches on either side of the road,” said Cadet Chal Mali. “The formation fell apart but later came back together. It was cool to see squads supporting each other.”

This sort of support was apparent throughout the duration of the ruck. If something fell out of a Cadet’s rucksack, battle buddies helped to find the object and return it. Squad leaders also ensured that their squad members remained hydrated and uninjured.

Cadet Laura Lopez attending the College of the Holy Cross advised prospective Cadets not to shy away from leaning on their battle buddies. 

“When you are struggling one way or the other, ask for help,” said Lopez.

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