Army ROTC practices skills for real world combat over weekend

Lauren Phillips

The Kent State Army ROTC spent Saturday and Sunday at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center completing their fall LDX: Leadership Development Exercise.

“We are doing a number of lanes,” said Cadet Adam Barnard, junior business management major.  “which consists of helping out in the motor pool, doing a down pilot lane, a paintball lane and an orienteering lane.”

As a leadership and military skills training session begins, the Army ROTC focuses each lane on teaching cadets to be tactful and to think critically. Field exercises, like this weekends LDX, teaches cadets firsthand what it takes to lead others, motivate groups and conduct missions as an Army Officer. Many cadets will leave Kent State as Second Lieutenants in the Army National Guard, the Army Reserves or the U.S. Army. 

The motor pool lane consisted of cadets learning from Army mechanics about Humvees and tanks. A group of cadets gathered around an Army mechanic who talked to cadets about how to properly fill out paperwork after checking a Humvee.

“We learned how to (Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services) the Humvees,” said Cadet Stephanie Dellinger, junior psychology major.  “Which was checking to make sure they run, making sure nothing was wrong with the Humvees and we took them out for a test run.”

Across the motor pool, a group of cadets stood on top of a tank while a mechanic talked about tank maintenance. Cadets jumped down into the driver’s seat of the tank to learn about maintenance inside. The Army mechanic gave cadets some facts about tanks including starting the tank up to hear the noise it makes.

“One thing I learned that I didn’t know is a tank can shoot a target and destroy it 2 miles away while moving,” Dellinger said.

 In the middle of the woods at Camp Ravenna a downed pilot, an ROTC cadet leader, waited to be rescued by cadets.  In the down pilot lane, cadets are taught how to communicate with villagers and civilians. Once cadets find the pilot, they have to successfully and tactically get the pilot to safety all while remembering they are in enemy territory.

“On deployments, the big thing is talking to villagers and civilians and how to communicate with them,” said Kayla Thomas, junior criminology and justice studies major.

The paintball lane is set up to teach cadets to think critically during battle.  Two teams enter the woods, and one exits as the winner. After the battle, the cadets regroup and are taught how they could improve their strategies. After the teaching the cadets reenter the woods for a second battle where they are expected to use the advice and tactics given to them.

“Guys, I’ve been to Iraq. I’ve been shot at. I didn’t walk like that, trust me, those aren’t paintballs, you don’t come back.” said Capt. Josh Donecker, Army ROTC instructor. 

The orienteering lane or the critical thinking land navigation lane teaches cadets how to think before doing.  They are given a challenge and they have to solve the problem. Challenges range from getting all cadets through a minefield safely, rescuing a bucket from a ravine and finding the buried treasure using clues and navigation tools.      

The Army ROTC teaches future Army officers the skills necessary to lead others through the most challenging of circumstances. The fall LDX is an important training aspect to the Army ROTC program.

“We train as we fight,” Donecker said.