Trudging through the mud and ducking under thick branches, the Cadets of 2nd Regiment, Basic Camp spent the morning of July 18, 2021 in the forests of Fort Knox, Ky. doing their Buddy Team Land Navigation training.

A group of Cadets from 2nd Regiment, Basic Camp use a map, a writing utensil, and a measuring tool to determine their bearings during Buddy Team Land Navigation in the woods of Fort Knox, Ky., July 18, 2021. | Photo by Griffin Amrein, CST Public Affairs.

The purpose: teaching Basic Camp Cadets how to use maps, compasses, and other simple objects to find precise locations in rough, off-road terrain. Cadets were sent out in small teams with the objective of finding pre-placed posts hidden in the forest, marking the locations, and returning to base camp for evaluation within a limited time frame.

2nd Regiment took this training with a fair amount of focus and seriousness, because they knew it was important to being an officer. “If you don’t have your GPS and you want to go to a certain point, you have to rely on maps,” said Cadet Jan Otero from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.

These Cadets had been briefed and tested in a classroom setting on Land Navigation before, but the real deal was a bit different. For starters, there was uneven ground and dense foliage. Groups had to spread out in search of their objective, and would shout to maintain communication. Sensitive paper maps and other materials had to be closely protected in plastic bags, and needed to be kept track of.

The last thing you would want is to get lost.

Using their maps and pens as a lifeline, Cadets could find their locations and the directions of their goals by noticing landmarks and measuring the relative distances between points.

It was a rough first time navigating the field, but all Cadets walked away from the event with valuable knowledge and experience that will surely aid them later in their military career.

A group of Cadets from 2nd Regiment, Basic Camp walk through tall grass in search of plotted points at Fort Knox, Ky. during Buddy Team Land Navigation, July 18, 2021. | Photo by Griffin Amrein, CST Pubic Affairs.

“For me, it’s more of a learning experience. It doesn’t matter if I get ‘go’ or ‘no go’ because this is great practice for when we go to Advanced Camp,” said Cadet Gabriel Irizarry from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. “I feel like for the future, Advanced Camp, this will be easier.” Once Advanced Camp comes, Land Navigation will be a must-pass event, and has higher stakes.

The path to Advanced Camp will be tough, but now these Cadets know how to navigate it.