With the final days of Cadet Summer Training (CST) approaching, the Cadets of 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp, applied the skills they developed during their initial Field Training Exercises (FTX) to brand new tactical scenarios at FTX II: Grizzly.
“It’s similar in a lot of ways to the first FTX, but they’ve just kind of turned up the heat a little bit,” Cadet Carson Collard, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said. “The movements are longer, the missions are on a tighter timeframe, there’s less help from Cadre, and so it overall puts more strain on the leaders and is, in my opinion, a better assessment of their leadership abilities.”
With the increased pressure of FTX II, Collard approached the exercise with a sense of broader purpose for his future as an officer.
“I just have a desire to serve and give back…both in a broad sense, by contributing to our nation’s defense, and also giving back just by being able to lead people and hopefully improve their lives,” Collard said.
With a rich history of military service in his family, including his father, who is a colonel, and two brothers who attend United States Military Academy West Point, the value of serving has been instilled within Collard.
“It’s really cool, just because when I share my experiences with my family, they know exactly what I’m talking about. They’ve gone through a lot of the same things,” Collard said. “I think it makes my sense of purpose stronger, because I’m not only driving to serve my country, but also to support like my family’s values and the mission my family has.”
Although extremely familiar with the Army lifestyle, Collard recognized that he is still at the start of his own career, acknowledging the value of the expertise that prior-enlisted Cadets have provided out in the field.
“Our platoon has actually been doing really well. We have some prior-service people who really offer some like unique experience and feedback to our process,” Collard said.
A great example of this was set by Cadet Nikkholai Miller, from University of North Texas, who shared his content in being able to provide wisdom in such an intense environment, having had 13 years of prior service.
“I actually enjoy it a lot, because I’ve always been someone who likes to help people develop their careers and their knowledge,” Miller said. “Anytime any one of them comes up to me and asks me for help, I’ll stop what I’m doing as long as it’s not super, super important to help them out.”
Having already made an impact among the Cadets at CST, Miller hopes to continue this pattern throughout his future career, recalling past, prior-enlisted platoon leaders he previously had that exemplified his goals as an officer.
“Every single one of my platoon leaders that did a really good job, and was above and beyond all the other platoon leaders, was prior enlisted as well,” Miller said.
With those experiences as the blueprint, Miller expressed his hopes for what lies ahead.
“I joined because I wanted to serve my country, but after being in, I realized that I did want leadership challenges,” Miller said. “So, I could take my prior service as an enlisted member, and apply it to being an officer.”