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Fort Knox, Ky. — “I got you covered,” is a simple phrase, but for the Cadets it carries so much more.

Fire Team Maneuver tasked the 2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp Cadets with working together in pairs to cover each other with their M4 Carbines, move down a lane, and reach their target safely.

Running in front of another person who would be firing rounds past you takes a lot of trust, and Sgt. Owen Brooks from Fort Hood, Texas, helped give some tips for Cadets on how to build trust with each other and their future soldiers.

Cadet Jennifer Robinson, McDaniel College, watches as Cadet Brianna Larson, Suny Brockport University, practices techniques to make it through the different crawling positions with Cadre at Fort Knox, Ky. on June 4, 2021. | Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office

“I would say two of the biggest things is knowledge of whatever branch you’re going into and just having really good communication,” Brooks said. “That’ll help your peers and subordinates trust you and it’ll help your leaders trust in you getting things done.”

The Cadets call out “I’ve got you covered,” before their buddy moves out of cover. A simple gesture that Brooks, who was also working as a lane safety for the event, noted could make all the difference in combat.

“Communication is probably the biggest part of this event because you have to be loud and you have to be able to understand what your battle buddy is saying,” Brooks added. “If communication were taken out of this in a real-life situation, someone would probably get killed, so communication through this is a very, very big deal.”

For Cadets, that kind of trust can seem unobtainable since at this point in Cadet Summer Training, most will have only known each other for a week. Now add in being from two completely different parts of the country.

Cadet Jeffrey Estes who attends Syracuse University in upstate New York is partnered with Cadet Jordan Quintana from the University of New Mexico. They have only known each other for seven days, but by the end of exercise were the best of friends.

“He’s on my squad so just talking to him, getting to know him a little more,” Quintana explained. “You know, making that friend bond through communication.”

With that initial opening made, communication in more stressful situations became much easier.

Cadet Jeffrey Estes, Syracuse University, checks back before advancing while Cadet Jordan Quintana, University of New Mexico, confirms that he has Estes covered so he can advance further down the Fire and Maneuver lanes at Fort Knox, Ky. on June 4, 2021. | Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office.

“When you don’t have years of trust, you have to just rely on that kind of verbal confirmation,” Estes said. “We were both loud and tried to make eye contact when we had to, and you have to use those keys to move forward.” 

“You just got to trust and if you don’t, you’re going to go in and make mistakes,” Quintana continued. “You have to have trust but be able to give it as well.”

“You have to have faith that we’re both there doing it for the right reason,” Estes concluded. “You know, we both are on the same wavelength.”

2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp Cadets share congratulations, praise, and critiques to further become a better unit throughout their time at Cadet Summer Training in Fort Knox, Ky. on June 4, 2021. | Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office

It may seem easy to make friends when most are college-aged Cadets and everyone is doing the same training, but things may not always be so easy.

When these Cadets are ready to face their Soldiers, these skills will be crucial to begin building trust early so that communication and safety can be easily attainable.

“I think it’s a lot about being with your battle buddies when you’re not doing training,” Estes said. “Getting to know the other side of them because that really helps to get that full picture and you can empathize with everybody more, understand who they really are. I think that helps everyone build that trust much more quickly when it’s less formal.”

“When I meet my platoon, I want to really get to know and bring them together,” Quintana said. “Create a family really.”