The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

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February 23, 2024

ROTC students reflect on training, formal event

The past two weeks have been especially busy for the “Pride of PA” Army ROTC cadets, with several different events demanding their attention and hard work.

If you were walking from the Waldron Campus Center to the Zurn Science Center on the morning of Thursday, April 12, you may have noticed cadets loading up the “Pride of PA” trailer with rucksacks. These were the battalion’s military science level III and IV cadets – junior and senior cadets, also known as MSLIIIs and IVs – preparing to leave for a joint field training exercise (JFTX).

This year, the “Pride of PA” conducted its JFTX at Allegheny State Park in Red House, N.Y. They were joined by cadets from St. Bonaventure University, Niagara University and the State University of New York at Brockport.

The objective was to prepare the MSLIIIs to attend the Leadership Develop Assessment Course (LDAC) this summer by giving them practice at key events.  The JFTX focused on three events in particular: day and night land navigation, the field leader’s reaction course (FLRC) and situational training exercises (STX).

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Land navigation tests a cadet’s ability to move from one location to another given only a map, grid coordinates and a compass.  A cadet must find a certain number of points in the given time frame in order to be successful.

He or she must plot points accurately, and stay on the correct azimuth for an exact distance when traveling.

The uphill, rocky terrain of the forest made movement a challenge. Lower visibility made night land navigation even more difficult.

FLRC challenges a cadet to lead a group of eight to 10 peers in accomplishing a mission on a static obstacle.  Usually the mission involves moving the cadets and their equipment from one side of the structure to the other without dropping equipment or touching certain parts of the obstacle or ground.

Completing an FLRC obstacle requires creativity, lateral thinking and quick decision-making.

In an STX “lane,” one cadet leads his peers to complete a tactical mission.

The cadet organizes the movement of the element and plans its actions on the objective, using basic infantry tactics.

The cadet then leads his group through executing the mission and must often respond to sudden changes in the situation.

Leading an STX lane demands a foundation of tactical competency, planning skills, command presence and rapid problem-solving skills.  During both an FLRC obstacle and an STX lane, an evaluator is watching the cadet in charge and assessing his or her planning skills and leadership aptitude.

Cadets were also evaluated on their ability to lead in a garrison (non-tactical) environment.

Responsibilities in this situation included ensuring that their subordinates were on time for training, in the right uniform and carrying the right equipment every day.

Cooperation was key to success, but team-building was complicated by the fact cadets from all four universities combined to form the small units their peers led.

However, MSLIII Shernelle James – a pre-dental major – made the best of the situation and considered the diversity a positive thing.

She said that she enjoyed “interacting with new people and getting to learn new tips and tactics from the cadets from other universities.”

Throughout the four-day training event, “Pride of PA” cadets had to overcome many challenges but were able to learn about their leadership strengths and weaknesses and what they need to focus on in further training.

Concurrently, Gannon’s MSLI cadets, freshmen; MSLII cadets, sophomores; and potential recruits gathered with Penn State Behrend and Mercyhurst University cadets at the Keystone training area in Geneva, Pa., for their own field training exercise (FTX).

This training event was about fun and testing one’s confidence and capabilities.  Day one included rappelling on the “Pride of PA” battalion’s own rock-climbing and rappelling tower.

Also, cadets were given an introduction to “field craft,” where they learned how to place a tent made from a standard-issue nylon poncho and some string.

Day two included FLRC obstacles and force-on-force paintball.

MSLII Michael Krysiak a political science major, said, “My favorite event was paintball. It was also my biggest learning experience.”

He said h squad used the activity to work on not only its tactics but its communication skills, and, in the second round they eliminated the entire opposing squad without losing a single squad member.

The JFTX and FTX were high-energy outdoor events, but by the next weekend, cadets were participating in a very different manner.

Every spring, the “Pride of PA” hosts a military formal event off campus, known as the “Dining Out.”  Held Saturday at the Zem-Zem Shrine Club, this event offered cadets an opportunity to dress up, invite a date, and learn about proper military protocol, customs and courtesies and military traditions.

In attendance were ROTC instructors, local retired military officers and university administrators.  Among those attending were Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., and his wife;  1st Lr. Luther  R. Manus, a Gannon alum commissioned by ROTC in 1953; and Lt. Col. Ronald Swift, a past “Pride of PA” instructor and current veteran’s financial aid and enrollment counselor at Gannon.

This year’s Dining Out was also the official retirement ceremony for Master Sgt. Michael McCarthy, a veteran of 27 years who has spent the last four years as ROTC Cadre.

Saturday’s event could not have been more different from the previous weekend’s training.

Still, there were common threads tying the events together.

At each, cadets learned about the ways of the Army that they will be commissioned into and spent quality time with each other and their instructors.

 

 

CATE FELDER

[email protected]

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