It started around 3:30 am on July 12, 2021. The Cadets of 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp took position in the middle of the deep woods and got to work planning.
Treating their Field Training Exercise as if it was a real mission, stealth was a priority. Whispers, red lights, and crawling through mud were the norm at Fort Knox, KY’s Panther Phase.
Most apparent however, was the waiting. After the planning started, most of 1st Platoon, C Company stayed mostly still for hours. They would secure a well-fortified perimeter, then would lay vigilant on the ground, despite rain and bugs all around them.
The effect this had was vital to mission success. Focused, in a concealed position, and usually with a battle-buddy nearby, these Cadets would be able to see any enemy in the woods who came near their lines.
With different Cadets being selected for roles such as Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, or Squad Leader, the platoon carried out its mission. This particular one involved attacking an enemy fortified position, and it started with reconnaissance.
The Platoon Leader lead a small detachment away into the woods as the rest continued to wait patiently, staying in radio contact with the Platoon Sergeant along the way.
After returning from scouting, the Platoon Leader passed orders to Squad Leaders, who lead their troops forward silently until they were each in position to conduct a surprise attack. Upon coordinated orders, they advanced together and fired upon the enemy.
After hours of stillness and planning, the Leaders’ “moment of truth” was over and accomplished. The time spent planning was vital, but battle is chaos. A good leader is able to prepare extensively, but still make good decisions based on in-the-moment impulse.
It took intense focus on the part of the Cadet leadership to assess the situation in the heat of battle, and coordinate themselves in the most effective way. The plan had led them here, now they had to execute.
“The enemy has a vote,” Cadre member Capt. Adrian Sanchez told the platoon: “Fight the fight, don’t fight the plan.”