With maps in hand and one goal in mind, the Cadets of 2nd Regiment, Basic Camp, were sent off into unknown terrain to test their land navigation skills.
The Cadets were provided coordinates and tasked with the mission of locating at least one of two points within a two-hour time limit, using only a map, protractor, compass, and pencil.
“We plotted our points and made our plan immediately, and were able to get moving,” Cadet Ryan McClure, from the College of William & Mary, said.
McClure and his fellow squad members, Cadet Justine Ameperosa, Cadet Vincent Bocchetti, Cadet Laura Zhang, and Cadet Anna Davis, all from Valley Forge Military Academy and College, were the first team to complete the training, finding both assigned points and returning to the check-in point in only 40 minutes.
“A lot of it was being on the same page, and a lot of it was trusting our skills and each other to be able to execute,” McClure said.
The group worked efficiently together, having quickly devised a plan to utilize the surrounding topographical characteristics and roads to their advantage.
“We plotted our starting point and we looked at recognizable terrain features,” McClure said. “We followed those mostly to get us to a good staging point to dead reckon for. We didn’t have to dead reckon for longer than like 250 meters, which kept us accurate.”
Dead Reckoning refers to the process of facing unfamiliar terrain head-on, staying as close to a predetermined azimuth and straight path as possible, regardless of what geographical barriers might be in the way.
To further avoid the unpredictable nature of this method, the team built on their original strategy.
“One of the people in the group suggested using the roads and then shooting our azimuth from the road off to our points so we weren’t just like running around in the woods for an hour,” Davis said.
By utilizing the roads as a starting point, the team had no confusion regarding where they had originally determined what angle and direction to follow, allowing them to backtrack and reattempt if needed.
In addition to a clear plan, Davis attributed the group’s success to their ability to communicate effectively.
“I think we did really good, because we listened to each other and we didn’t take too long deciding what we were going to do,” Davis said.
Bocchetti agreed, noting his pride in his team for locating both points in such a productive manner.
“It feels great. We’re all excited. We were happy, we worked as a team really well. Communication was definitely a key factor,” Bocchetti said.
Bocchetti also discussed how rewarding it felt to not only accomplish such a difficult task, but to be the first team to do so.
“Favorite moment from today was definitely getting back and seeing the smiles on each other’s face that we completed it, and we were the first ones to do it,” Bocchetti said.
With this newly found confidence, this group of Cadets is looking forward to navigating their way through the rest of Cadet Summer Training.