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ROTC cadets conduct local field training

Danielle Lerner | Monday, September 20, 2004

The Notre Dame Army ROTC battalion trudged through the woods and slept under the stars this past weekend while conducting their semi-annual field training exercise.

The field training, or FTX, is a military training event intended to prepare juniors for a leadership camp the summer before senior year.

Over 80 cadets – freshman through juniors – and senior staff left Notre Dame at 1:30 p.m. Friday and returned Sunday.

Despite holding previous trainings in Fort Custer, Mich., this year’s battalion kept it local in South Bend.

Notre Dame senior and army ROTC battalion commander Patrick Robinson was happy with the decision.

“Staying local provided more time for training and less time for transit,” Robinson said. “This was more convenient and allowed us to come home earlier for recovery.”

Armed with a compass, map and protractor, cadets set out Friday afternoon directing themselves through the fields of St. Patrick’s Park for day land navigation training.

During night land navigation exercises at White Field, the cadets practiced pace counts and compass use in the dark.

Given sleeping bags and ponchos, the cadets were allowed only five hours to sleep, with each cadet waking for a one-hour shift of fireguard patrol.

“It was definitely an experience for lots of people who haven’t done it,” sophomore Ryan Larson said.

New to the FTX this year, the battalion went paint balling in Osceola for battle drill training. Battle training simulates real-life battle situations and forces cadets to work together in groups. The simulation aims to improve communication skills and monitor reactions to stressful situations.

In the past, the Army ROTC has used blank ammunition, but using paint balls gave a more realistic feel, cadets said.

“It gave us down-range feedback rather than just making noise, plus it was more fun,” Robinson said.

The pairing of junior leaders with freshman and sophomore cadets contributed to the experience.

“The exercise integrated all three classes, working together and getting direct feedback was the best improvement,” Larson said. “It was also very helpful because you could see where you were shooting and if you had been shot yourself.”

The past weekend left a good impression among cadets.

Saint Mary’s junior Vanessa Hooper-Yan noticed a positive attitude throughout the battalion.

“In general, everyone was more motivated this time. Everyone wanted to be there,” she said.

The FTX also succeeded in preparing juniors for camp.

“I definitely feel prepared for camp in the summer, I received really productive feedback and got a lot out of it,” said Hooper-Yan, “I now know what I need to improve on.”

Others feel this semester’s training reflects the continuing development of the Army ROTC program.

“It is amazing how Army ROTC has developed over the years,” Robinson said. “We acquire new leadership skills throughout all four years and this was definitely a unique leadership experience.”