Squad STX teaches lessons, shows value in repetition
Even in the early stages of a military career, Leader Training Course cadets are wary of wide open spaces.
More specifically, they’re guarded when it comes to fields in which they have no cover and can be spotted from far distances.
Ken Harris, an evaluator at one of the lanes in the STX, thinks the exercise is less about tactics and more about finding solutions to problems the cadets might face in the future.
“We’re putting them in imperfect situations so they can find solutions for them,” he said.
Harris also said advancing from a tree-line into an open area can set back a squad 15 to 20 minutes.
What the cadets didn’t realize was that the field was the least of their worries.
Cadets of First Platoon of India Company completed the same mission twice on July 30. And although they wouldn’t consider themselves to have failed during either of their attempts, both times the squad sustained several casualties.
Cadet Daniel Aslakson of John Caroll University in University Heights, Ohio was part of the squad’s assault element responsible for clearing the building.
“The initial plan was to have Bravo team to lay down support while Alpha team assaulted through and cleared any buildings,” he said. “That was going according to plan. We actually did a good job getting the enemies out of the way before we started assaulting the building. Then we all got blown up. We should never have entered the building, probably.”
Squad leader Craig Asberry of the University of San Francisco lead the attack on the opposing force’s base. After eliminating both of the enemies, he was one of three cadets to enter a building containing five improvised explosive devices.
“I would have been more cautious about those freaking trees in the back they were hiding behind,” Asberry said later of what he would have done differently. “In real life, I would have pulled out when we lost [our first casualty, Cadet] Babilonia.”
Bravo team’s security never advanced to assist the assault element. The plan had been for them to move forward when Alpha team arrived at the building.
Aslakson believed their problems stemmed from failing to convey all aspects of the plan.
“We were kinda lax on the communication,” Aslakson said. “Our plan didn’t work out 100 percent.”
Rob Hafen, who retired from the Army last year, is a member of the STX committee. He observed the squad as they performed the exercise and agreed that they lacked communication.
“STX is about tactics,” he said. “They have to learn leadership through tactics in order to be effective.”
Although Asberry expected to be prepared for the mission during the second go around, he realized his squad still has a lot to learn.
“You’re not ready,” he said. “Just jump in. You are definitely not ready.”