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Summer training forges leaders

Story by Jeremy O’Bryan/Warrior Forge public affairs
Photos by Al Zdarsky/Warrior Forge public affairs

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (TRADOC News Service, Aug. 4, 2005) – The mission of the Leader Development and Assessment Course is to train cadets and National Guard officer candidates to Army standards and to develop leadership and evaluate officer potential. This is accomplished through a tiered training structure using light infantry tactics as the instructional medium. Stress is an inherent part of all cadet and officer candidate training. There will be no profanity or physical abuse, but cadets will know they are in a highly-disciplined environment.

The training program is sequential and progressive. It starts with individual training and leads to collective training, building from simple tasks to complex tasks. This building-block approach permits integration of previously-learned skills into follow-on training, thus reinforcing learning and promoting retention. This logical, common-sense training sequence is maintained for each training cycle through use of the tiered training structure. The only aspect of training that is not sequential and progressive is the branch orientation.

Confidence training

Confidence training includes the combat water-survival test, rappel training, one-rope bridge training, the Slide-For-Life, log walk/rope drop and a confidence/obstacle course. Confidence training is designed to challenge the cadets’ physical courage, build confidence in personal abilities and assist in overcoming fear.

The CWST consists of a 15-meter swim carrying an M-16 and wearing the battle dress uniform and load-bearing equipment; a three-meter drop into water with weapon and LBE while blindfolded; and equipment removal: enter water and discard weapon and LBE.

At the rappelling and rope-bridging sites, cadets learn to inspect ropes and tie anchor knots; each cadet executes one 17-foot rappel and several 37-foot rappels. Cadets receive an explanation and demonstration on crossing techniques of a one- and three-rope bridge at river locations. Cadets execute dry river crossings using a one-rope bridge and demonstrate confidence in their ability to overcome fear of heights by executing the confidence/obstacle course, log walk/rope drop and Slide-for-Life.

Field Leader Reaction Course

The Field Leader Reaction Course is designed to develop and evaluate leadership and to build teamwork early in the camp cycle. Course administration is accomplished using the established cadet organization and chain of command.

Cadet leadership potential is assessed by committee evaluators. Cadets are provided the opportunity to get early feedback on their leadership strengths, weaknesses, styles and techniques.

Basic rifle marksmanship

Future Army leaders must know the characteristics of the basic Army rifle, how to fire it accurately and how to employ it in combat. Rifle-marksmanship training teaches cadets to engage and hit targets on the battlefield in day, night and nuclear-biological-chemical conditions.

Cadets are required to fire for record. A score of 23 hits out of 40 possible qualifies the shooter.

Land navigation

Land navigation training must be mastered early in the camp cycle for the cadets to be fully successful in the tactical training which follows.

The land-navigation evaluation consists of three events totaling 100 points. The written examination is worth 20 percent. The day land navigation test is worth 50 percent. Night land navigation is worth 30 percent.

Each cadet must earn 70 percent on each test to pass this event. A passing score in land navigation is a camp-completion criterion.

Security operations

Security operations trains cadets in the fundamentals of occupying a tactical assembly area and emplacing crew-served weapons such as the M-249, M-2, M-240 and MK-19.

Hand grenade

Basic understanding and use of hand grenades is an important facet of weapons and tactical training. Cadets learn to identify major types of grenades, learn the grenades’ characteristics and actually get to employ live grenades.

Fire support

Fire support teaches cadets the importance and lethality of artillery fire on the battlefield and employment of indirect fires. It also gives them the opportunity to perform the duties of howitzer crewmen.

First aid

Cadets develop confidence in their ability to react properly to battlefield wounds and the threats of chemical weapons attacks. Through hands-on training and evaluation, cadets learn critical first-aid skills and fundamental tasks of donning and maintaining a chemical protective mask.

Individual tactical training

Individual tactical training is the first block of instruction in tactics at LDAC. It covers individual battlefield skills, combat-movement techniques and procedures necessary for subsequent tactical training at the squad and platoon levels.

Tactical training is a vehicle to teach and evaluate leadership. It introduces conditions of stress that parallel those found in combat. Tactical training introduces new skills, provides performance-oriented reinforcement opportunities and increases the degree of difficulty and sophistication of training events. This building-block approach provides the best opportunity for cadets to learn and for cadre to assess leadership potential.

Squad situational training exercise

The squad situational training exercise is a five-day, two-phase event. The first day, the squad training phase, is designed to train squad battle drills and collective tasks.

The last four days, the squad STX lane phase, are designed to evaluate leadership using tactical scenarios. Each cadet receives two formal evaluations of her/his performance as a squad leader during this phase.

Squad operations build on and reinforce all previous instruction. Cadets use knowledge of land navigation, terrain analysis, weapons systems and all individual training previously presented.

Patrolling STX

Patrolling STX is a three-day event that provides cadets practical experience in leading Soldiers at the section level in a challenging, realistic and fluid environment. Cadets are formally evaluated during the exercise, and developmental feedback is provided to all levels of leadership.

Patrolling STX builds on and reinforces all previous instruction received during the course, and incorporates the basics of air-assault operations by conducting an actual air insertion.
The event ends with a 10-kilometer foot march and is the capstone exercise for the cadets’ experience at LDAC.