Sept. 23, 2013
While students are just settling into classes, training is already well underway for UCCS ROTC cadets.
On Sept. 14, ROTC conducted a field training exercise geared toward first- and second-year cadets.
The event was organized so junior cadets received their education from more experienced cadets. Cadre were on hand to supervise.
“Seniors run everything out here. The cadre are just here to make sure everything is done safely and correctly,” said MS4 James Prairie, a former infantry soldier who joined the ROTC program one year after leaving the military and enrolling at UCCS.
The day began at 7 a.m. with a land navigation and orienteering course. Cadets were given aerial surveillance photographs and ordered to pilot their way to various points around the campus.
Following the orienteering course, cadets moved down to the land behind the Four Diamonds sporting complex. There, the training consisted of three class stations and a half-mile long assault course.
One station involved drills for reacting to a roadside bomb explosion. Another taught cadets how to handle anti-tank weapons and Claymore anti-personal mines.
The third station taught cadets how to call for medical evacuation helicopters over the radio. MS3 Jacob Webster, the class instructor, stressed the importance of properly prioritizing casualties. Webster explained how failure to do so could waste resources needed elsewhere on the battlefield.
The primary training event, the assault course, tested cadets on a number of critical soldiering skills. The course was comprised of several sections and covered challenging terrain.
Cadets were faced with multiple obstacles including a rope line, log crossing and a mud crawl under razor wire.
Next, the trainees were required to maneuver along a ditch while under paintball gunfire. The purpose of this event, according to Prairie, was to practice the military’s “movement to contact” drill.
After a brief respite to hydrate, cadets were required to assault a bunker while broken into two teams.
Following the completion of this stage, instructors labeled one member of the cadet team a “casualty.” The remainder of the team was required to transport that individual back to the starting point on a stretcher.
With more than 60 junior-level cadets training, and half that many senior cadets running the courses, the training ground was full of tactically executed movement.
Overseeing the training was Kelsey Whistler, MS4 and cadet sergeant major. Her main focus was on the welfare of her troops.
“Safety is a huge one of my issues,” Whistler said. The first ROTC female to participate in the heavyweight division of the Bataan Memorial Death March, Whistler is also former army active duty.
Whistler indicated UCCS ROTC is stepping up its annual training cycle to allow younger cadets more training time before the Leader Development and Assessment Course.
LDAC is a major annual ROTC training event that takes place every summer at Fort Lewis, Wash.
A number of the cadet’s parents were on hand, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Mark Thompson, professor of military science and head of the UCCS ROTC program.
Whistler explained training events help cadets acclimate to a military lifestyle and determine their willingness to enlist.
“That’s what ROTC is really all about. Do you really want to do this,” said Whistler.