Cadets trickled into the check-in table at the Land Navigation Course during Cadet Summer Training. Some finished the course within an hour and a half, including Cadet Alec Brinkman, a prior service Infantryman that has walked more than a mile on a few Land Navigation courses himself. 

Brinkman, a Green-to-Gold Cadet, served as a Non-Commissioned Officer and contracted with Texas A&M University-Central Texas. After serving 12 years active duty, he has been stationed around the world to include Germany, Washington, Texas, and also found himself in Afghanistan nine months after graduating Basic Training in 2011. 

Now in 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, the former drill sergeant brings experience and advice to his platoon at CST. But sometimes, going back to the basics is a great way to start – even for an experienced Non-Commissioned Officer. 

Cadet Alec Brinkman talks to one of his peers after completing the Day Land Navigation Course during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 16, 2022. Brinkman is a Green-to-Gold Cadet that served over a decade as an active duty infantryman. | Photo by 2nd Lt. Courtney Huhta, CST Public Affairs Office

“For me, this is great going back through these basic skill level courses – they’re perishable skills,” said Brinkman. “Land Navigation isn’t just about being tested on and going out and finding points. It has a ton of applicability to your missions as well. In order to maneuver your platoon or your company or even your battalion from a point to another point out on the open battlefield is crucial. But going back to the basics and foundation of being able to effectively read a map is super important.” 

With a little under a month left of training, Brinkman stressed the aspect of absorbing what is taught at CST and how Cadets, regardless of experience, can apply it to when they commission as second lieutenants.

Cadet Alec Brinkman, 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, sits with his peers after they all completed the Land Navigation Course during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 16, 2022. | Photo by 2nd Lt. Courtney Huhta, CST Public Affairs Office

“It’s important to stay in tune with them throughout your whole career, but as an officer, you can look at this – you can go through the motions and then you’ll be able to have that empathy, that sympathy, that perspective of what your Soldiers are going through when they go through this same type of training,” said Brinkman.

Brinkman looks to don his light blue cord again as he hopes to return to Infantry, this time as an officer. With him, he will bring his biggest personal strength which is mental toughness.

“Having been through several deployments, several pretty tough schools and a lot of training rotations, you can kind of gear up towards ‘okay, this can be pretty hard’, said Brinkman, “It’s how you bounce back from adversity. It’s how you can overcome those obstacles and make yourself better for it and just bring your experiences and bring what you’re good at to the new team and apply yourself.”