FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets of 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, conduct situational training exercises at Fort Knox, Ky., June 18, 2023. The field training exercises are divided into three phases known as Wolverine, Panther, and Grizzley.
Wolverine is the three-day initial stage Cadets spend in the field running lanes. In this stage, Cadets learn how to work together and communicate during high tense situations. The lanes that Cadets run through include conducting a mock ambush, attack, reaction to contact, raid, and defensive position.
“We’re mainly focused on building cohesion within the platoon,” said Cadet Isaiah McCall, University of Virginia’s College at Wise. “We’re going to make sure we are completely ready for platoon operations through Panther and Grizzly.”
On day two of Wolverine, Cadets run through simulated battle drills as a platoon for the first time during camp.
Wolverine allows Cadets to work out problems that may stop them from being successful in the final two phases, Panther and Grizzly, where they will be officially graded.
During day one of Wolverine, Cadet Thomas Lewis, University of Kentucky, and his regiment conducted lanes in squad sized elements rather than platoon sized.
“We went down to the bare bones yesterday and now we’re bringing it all together, finding platoon chemistry,” Lewis said. “We’re going from the micro to macro perspective preparing ourselves for what our job will actually be like.”
Disseminating information across a 34-to-40-person platoon can be challenging. Cadet McCall, a member of Lewis’ platoon, noticed how communication skills needed improvement.
“Communication has been one thing that has been brought up multiple times during AAR’s (After Action Reviews), and communication is obviously one of the main things that you want within a unit,” McCall said. “Making sure your lower subordinates know what the plan is from the ground up is important, so whenever they execute the mission, they know what the intent is.”
During each lane, Cadets switch between platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and four separate squad leaders. Every position carries out its own responsibilities and Cadets are required to know how they are all managed.
Cadet Rylee Hajos, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, has had multiple experiences in leadership during Advanced Camp.
“Own your decisions, even if you’re not comfortable with tactics just roll with it,” Hajos said. “Trust yourself and trust the people around you because if they understand what you want to happen, they will make it happen.”
Cadets prepare for Panther phase in a few days and use Wolverine to build camaraderie and teamwork skills. During the Panther and Grizzly stages Cadets are expected to understand how to conduct tactics without help from the Cadre. Being graded in lanes during Panther and Grizzly is one of the last parts of camp before graduation.
“I think our platoon started off strong, and we’ve only gotten stronger together,” said Cadet Shannon Curtis, The Citadel. “Honestly we’ve came together so much and we’re all kind of like each other’s brothers and sisters right now.”