FORT CARSON, Colo. —
For most college students, summer break includes no homework, summer jobs, family trips, barbecues, beaches and overall fun. However for a particular group of college students, their summer break is filled with field training exercises, camouflage, Meals, Ready-to-Eat, and lots and lots of ruck marches.
Units within the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division hosted that group of college students for the summer. Those group of students were cadets, from U.S. Military Academy and Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, who are participating in Cadet Troop Leader Training.
“CTLT is basically cadets coming to active-duty units for two or three weeks, depending on their schedule, to ideally take the place of a lieutenant, preferably a platoon leader,” said Capt. Jonathan C. Conway, commander of Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 2IBCT. “Cadets shadow that platoon leader and take over convoy briefs, training plans, physical training, and basically do the job of a platoon leader/lieutenant before they commission.”
Conway, a former ROTC cadet from the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg Virginia had the opportunity to incorporate U.S. Military Academy cadets with his battery.
“I think (CTLT) gives cadets a better idea of what a lieutenant does and opens up prospective,” Conway said. “Our cadets arrived during an intensive training cycle so they got to pull the string on a howitzer, work down on the gun line doing occupations and even work in the fire direction center learning how to compute fire missions.”
However for Conway, the biggest take away he hopes cadets get from the experience is how unique the Army is as an organization.
“You have some awesome days and some terrible days, but when teams are tight and work together they can make some pretty cool and amazing things happen,” Conway said. “The amount of responsibility given to officers at a young age is a lot but with help from Soldiers and NCOs it’s possible.”
According to Kyle Summa, a cadet at U.S. Military Academy, the program allowed him to understand everyone’s role in a battery, from the youngest private all the way to the battery commander.
“I think the most important thing I learned from CTLT was the importance of learning from and utilizing your NCOs,” said the Southington, Connecticut native. “When it came down to it, they were the subject matter experts on their guns and teams. Without them, the mission could not be accomplished.”
Summa, who wants to branch field artillery or aviation, added that he recommends others cadets to participate in CTLT.
“It was a great opportunity to meet and work with experienced Soldiers. I was constantly learning from them, while we all worked as a team to complete the challenges at hand,” Summa said. “The experience was great physical and mentally and it left me with valuable lessons to take as a leader moving forward.”