3rd Regiment Advanced Camp Cadets are on the last leg of Cadet Summer Training (CST), and on their way to becoming Commissioned Officers in the Army.
As a final challenge, Cadets are put to the test during their Field Training Exercise (FTX), a 12-day-long event where Cadets live in the woods, encountering ticks, pouring rain, and opposing forces.
FTX not only assesses a Cadet’s physical capabilities, but it also teaches them how to adapt and depend on their leadership skills. In fact, leadership is at the forefront of every decision made in the field.
FTX is divided into three phases: wolverine, panther, and grizzly, also known as the crawl, walk, and run phases. With each phase comes increased difficulty.
The last phase, grizzly, requires entirely Cadet-led leadership roles to complete missions like raids, recons, and attacks.
Cadet Jacob Bianchi, University of Texas San Antonio, was a machine gunner, carrying a 240 Bravo for his platoon during an attack mission against opposing forces on July 2, 2021.
“My role was to support by fire, giving the assault elements a chance to get into position and open fire,” he said.
Bianchi came to CST as a prior enlisted Soldier in the Army before joining ROTC and choosing to become an officer. He stressed the importance of knowing how to create an operation order (OPORD), something that he had little experience with before coming here.
“Don’t focus on just the physical side, look more into the ranger handbook and more into the academic side of the Army instead of just focusing on the tactics as a whole,” he recommended.
Kellie Schmidt, University of Twin Cities, was the Platoon Sergeant (PSG) for her platoon during a raid.
“My role as the PSG was making sure that everyone had the equipment they needed for the raid, had enough water, eyepro, gloves, basically anything they needed,” she said.
Schmidt advises Cadets in the PSG role to remain calm, as it can sometimes feel overwhelming. She noted that being a PSG required similar responsibilities as the Platoon Leader (PL) role, and that it’s important to know how to separate the two from each other.
“I know that when I get into a leadership position, I get a little stressed right away, but take it slow and know your role, focus on your job and maintain accountability,” she said.
Schmidt joined ROTC because she felt it gave her a larger sense of purpose.
“I really wanted to be a part of something much bigger than myself, something that had a big impact on my future and everybody else. I saw purpose in the Army, and I could go to college at the same time.”
Both Cadets agreed that they have learned valuable lessons while at CST.
“I can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned here back to my program and pass it on to the Cadets next year that will be doing this. I’m excited to prepare them in the areas where I felt I was unprepared,” said Bianchi.
“A lot of things here at CST are hard, it’s not always fun but I remind myself not to wish the time away. Cherish what you have with the experience, what you’re learning and the people you meet, that’s for sure some of the best parts,” Schmidt said.