Being an Army officer requires a person to devote themselves to the tasks at hand, both physically and mentally. To do this requires more than just will; it requires confidence.

A Cadet of 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp descends the rope ladder on the “Tough One,” part of the Confidence Course at Fort Knox, KY, on July 8, 2021. | Photo by Griffin Amrein, CST Public Affairs.

Cadets of 7th Regiment put themselves to the test on July 8, 2021, in the Confidence Course: a set of eight obstacles in the woods of Fort Knox, KY.

The obstacles were designed to force Cadets to learn to manipulate their bodies in difficult and unconventional ways to prepare them to navigate an unforeseen environment. But more than this, completion of the Confidence Course would get these Cadets to question what else they are capable of.

It didn’t matter if they were afraid of heights, or if they didn’t believe in their own physical strength, they did it with help from squad mates and Cadre.

One Cadre member, Sgt. Kendall Spangler, made sure to tell all Cadets to erase the phrase “I can’t” from their vocabulary. He said that it’s normal to be afraid, but bravery means moving forward anyway.

“Bravery without fear is insanity to some degree,” said Spangler. “You’re always going to be asked to do something that scares you … When they’re challenged with another obstacle in their military career, they learn thinking process here by taking on these obstacles.”

Crucial to defeating the Confidence Course was support. These Cadets were learning about the obstacles for the first time just before being expected to do them, and were a little unsure. The Cadre gave them advice, but the drive to succeed was supplied by overwhelming peer motivation.

“Almost all of them seem like a very tight-knit group,” said Captain Preston Stewart. “If you come out here by yourself and try to do it, maybe you’ll quit, maybe you can’t do it, but when you got your squad here, I mean that’s what the military is all about: trying to do things for those around you and building up those around you, and it’s an awesome lesson for the Cadets.”

Cadet Miranda Sermersheim of 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, from the University of Southern Indiana ascends the “Confidence Climb” at Fort Knox, KY’s Confidence Course on July 8, 2021. | Photo by Griffin Amrein, CST Public Affairs.

In their short time here, 7th Regiment Cadets had come a long way in developing as a team, and as leaders.

“I see in them what I’ve seen in really good leaders before them,” said Sgt. Spangler. “If they maintain that motivation and that can-do attitude, I see ‘full-bird’ Colonels and Generals one day.”