A squad of 12 cadets, including several Cornell students, stealthily crept through the woods in Mount Pleasant brandishing dummy rifles, grenades and bazookas. Their mission: find and attack the enemy bunker.Under the scrutiny of their superiors as part of a training exercise, the group followed its given course — drawn up during 45 minutes of planning — to the bunker. When they arrived, the cadets yelled, “Bang! Bang!” at the fake enemy for five minutes.This exercise was one of many that were completed from Thursday to Sunday at the New York State Armory as part of this fall’s Army ROTC Field Training Exercise. FTX trains freshman, sophomore and junior cadets from Cornell, SUNY Cortland, Ithaca College, Binghamton University and Elmira College, though only the juniors are formally evaluated. The program evaluates juniors on their leadership skills, cadet and second Lt. Alicia Hetrick ’12, a cadet, said. This training and evaluation helps juniors prepare for a mandatory five-week Leadership Development and Assessment Course in Fort Lewis, Wash., during which they are evaluated for four days straight.The LDAC affects cadets’ future career paths in the military, Hetrick said.Cornell excels at this competition because of the training it gets at the FTX, according to Hetrick.On Saturday at FTX, cadets participated in five “lanes” — exercises such as the simulated combat attack involving the enemy bunker. Cadets’ evaluators use a Leadership Assessment Report — a small, blue card — to note the junior cadets’ characteristics, presence, intellectual capabilities and core leader competencies and to provide observations and counseling.At the end of the exercise, the squad sat down for an Army Action Review, during which the junior leading the group describes how he or she carried out the mission. The junior also receives feedback from the squad, the evaluator, and the senior cadet who was following the squad and communicating to the junior through radio calls.The squad goes over each stage of the mission — from the plan, the movement, and the action — and members of the squad offer “sustains and improvements,” or advice on what to improve, to the junior.In addition to this simulated combat exercise, the cadets participate in land navigation exercises and patrolling during the weekend, according to Maj. Kevin Swab.This weekend, one hundred cadets participated in the FTX, which is “designed to bring everyone from all the schools together,” Swab said.
Original Author: Sylvia Rusnak