A 3rd Regiment Basic Camp Cadet asks a question during an introductory lesson on battle drills in Fort Knox, Ky. July 27, 2021. | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

“Front Contact!”

The squad barely has time to respond before hearing the whistle of incoming indirect-fire, followed by the punch of an explosion. As the plume of smoke rises in front of them, they all drop to the ground and scramble for cover. Luckily, they are prepared to handle this battle.

Thinking quickly, they hurry to take different positions to cover their rear and flanks, shouting to keep communication the whole time. Returning fire, this squad is confident that their training has prepared them to win the fight.

On the morning of July 27, 2021, 3rd Regiment, Basic Camp Cadets learned to prepare for real combat situations like this in their Introduction to Battle Drills training.

These exercises took the Cadets into the woods of Fort Knox, Ky., and drilled them on small-squad tactics for reacting to enemy attacks, attacking the enemy, and setting up ambushes.

The use of pyrotechnics and blank ammunition filled the air with loud pops and immersed Cadets in the mindset of war. In addition, there were military personnel playing the part of OPFOR (opposing force), acting as the enemy during these pretend engagements.

There is a lot more to this type of situation than many people might think, and a great deal of it involves making quick decisions while under pressure, and letting instinct lead the way.

To an outsider, these exercises might seem like confusing shouting matches between the Cadets, but the reason for the constant yelling was to keep the rest of the squad informed on the three Ds: the distance, direction, and description of the enemy. This important information helps them to react appropriately to whatever enemy they face, and to fight back effectively.

A 3rd Regiment Basic Camp Cadet reacts to contact from Opposing Forces (OPFOR) during Intro to Battle Drills training in Fort Knox, Ky. July 27, 2021. | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

A lot of Cadet Summer Training involves events that put Cadets to the test on an individual level, but when it comes to real-life combat, every squad has to act as a tight-knit, well-coordinated unit in order to succeed. This training is no different. Each individual is a single part of a well-oiled machine.