By Tanner Cole
Feature Photo by Katie Gray
For the culmination of the Leader Training Course, cadets take to the woods with rifles in hand. Their mission: to work together as cohesive squads and rout the enemy forces.
Soochan Lee, a cadet from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, led his squad on a 700-meter hike through the Kentucky woods to perform an ambush operation.
“We’ll be doing a point ambush,” Lee said. “Basically, I’ll lead a whole squad out. Where the objective is I’ll have a staggered line. We kill the enemy, assault through and then consolidate.”
With a clear intent and focus, Lee led his squad straight into the woods using a compass to navigate. Each member of the squad knew their specific role in the operation and actively accomplished their job along the route. Nicole Keteza, of the University of South Florida in Tampa, did her best to accomplish the mission knowing that she would likely never be charged with actual infantry work in the Army.
“It’s a basic infantry drill,” Keteza said. “Even though not all of us will be infantry officers, every other job in the military is essentially some sort of support for the infantry, so it’s important to know all the basic battle drills and tactics.”
One member of the squad, Oren Rosen, of the University of California, Los Angeles, saw the training as a unique means to practice his planned role in military intelligence. Though LTC was Rosen’s first experience with ROTC, he already sees himself working to gather intelligence and supply infantry with the information they need so protect and serve.
“When we search the Enemy Prisoners of War, we’re trying to figure out where they’re coming from and what their potential capabilities are,” Rosen said. “My role as a military intelligence officer might be to see that they have a certain type of assault rifle or a certain direction of travel. I have to figure out where they’re coming from and see whether they might have additional support in this area.”
The exercise was successful. Although this was the first time any members of the squad engaged in this sort of training, Lee got them to the objective and they eliminated the enemy targets.
Their tactical training marks the end of the cadets’ LTC experience. They’ll face similar situational training at the end of their Leader Development and Assessment Course next year. For now, LTC cadets are already preparing for their evaluations.
Megan Geisen, of the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities, finished the training under Lee’s leadership. Despite several hiccups along the way, she knew the training was preparing them for success.
“We made it to the objective, we assaulted the enemy and concluded our mission,” she said. “Next time we’ll do better. The more we practice it, the more we’ll get better.”