ROTC cadets prepare for summer assessment

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Adrienne Burch

ROTC cadets from 17 schools across southeast and Puerto Rico took part in a preview exercise from Feb. 23 to 26 that helped them gauge where they stand in different tasks before attending a Leadership Development and Assessment Course this summer.

“The ROTC is the most elite leadership class you can take,” said Walker Owen a junior majoring in criminal justice. Owen is a member of the UA ROTC who just returned from the four-day training camp at Camp McClain in Mississippi.

At camp, the cadets are tested on their abilities, and doing well is encouraged because each person’s job and duty station depends on performance, said Jeremy Warner, a senior ROTC member who participated in LDAC this past summer.

“This is the best preparation you can get for LDAC,” Warner said. “It is really, really tough, but it’s the best.”

Cadets were put through a strenuous physical fitness test last Thursday morning that consisted of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. This test must be passed in order to continue with the remainder of the program.

Owen said the physical training portion of the exam is probably where most people learn they can improve for LDAC camp this summer. Your physical training can never be good enough, he said.

The following day, cadets took a written navigation exam where they were given four and a half hours to locate eight points within a wooded area eight square miles. They also had to repeat this test at night, but they were given three and a half hours to find five points.

“This was the largest course I have ever done,” Owen said.

The Cadets practice this Navigation skill at least once a month on three different courses at the University.

The last couple of days were spent conducting Squad Tactical Exercises where cadets run through lanes in the forest in squads of 12 performing different missions such as ambush or attack. The scores from these exercises are evaluated, and those with too low a score will not be allowed to continue the program. However, most people are well enough prepared and do fine, Warner said.

“Somehow over these four days, we were able to go from not knowing each other at all to working together to complete these tasks,” Owen said.

Owen was placed in a squad with 12 men where he was the only one from UA. He just had to get to know them, Owen said.  Owen plans to have at least a 20-year career in the U.S. Army after graduating from the University.

This four-day training weekend is only the beginning for most of these cadets. Many are working toward the 30-day camp this summer before beginning their careers in the military.