Army ROTC cadets go to camp to improve skills, learn leadership

Aubrey Johnson

Army ROTC cadets gathered in the woods outside of Ravenna Saturday to fine-tune their skills and learn leadership.

Cadets from Kent State, University of Mount Union and Youngstown State University participated in the Field Training Exercise event, referred to as FTX.

Senior Maria Strawn, public affairs officer for Army ROTC, said all the training is geared toward the camp they send students to after their junior year.

“We’re trying to get them ready with every kind of leadership development, skills development, tactical development — everything,” Strawn said.

“This is honestly the best leadership program that you’re going to find.” – Lt Col. Mark Piccone

Will Tolerton, sophomore computer science major in the ROTC program at Kent State, said at FTX cadets practice activities that they will be assessed on a Leader Development and Assessment Course.

Junior cadets attend LDAC during the summer following their junior years. Tolerton said at LDAC, cadets are assessed from number one cadet to the last cadet in the country. He said how the cadets get rated will determine what jobs they will get after their senior years.

Nick Brown, freshman aeronautical engineering major and cadet, said the courses taught him leadership and teamwork.

“It’s a family thing,” Brown said. “Everyone in this uniform is my brother or sister and someone I’m going to look out for.”

The FTX event took place from Oct. 21 to 23. On Friday, cadets took part in land navigation, where they were given points and were sent out into the woods to find them.

On Saturday, juniors participated in squad tactical missions, where teams of nine-12 men were given an objective to find in the woods, where they had to complete the mission by investigation, ambush or attack.

Freshmen and sophomores completed hand grenade assault courses and Field Leaders Reaction Courses, which have obstacles they must get around as a team.

On Sunday, cadets had to go off a 60-foot rappel tower and were given a class on tanks by the National Guard.

Each senior ROTC cadet is given a specific duty or job title, and they oversee the underclassmen to help them improve during the weekend.

Seniors Zachary Macek and Matthew Malinowski spent about seven weeks organizing the entire FTX weekend. They were given basic direction from their cadre but were in charge of planning events, coordinating timelines, making sure they have the proper supplies and putting together orders.

Lt Col. Mark Piccone, professor of military science, said they will do another FTX event in the spring.

“It will be a comprehensive of what they learned since the beginning of the semester,” Piccone said.

Piccone said no college course gives students the experience they get from this program. He said cadets learn how to be comfortable, how to be in charge and how to make decisions and overcome fears.

“This is honestly the best leadership program that you’re going to find,” Piccone said.

Contact Aubrey Johnson at [email protected].