By: Jake McCollum
Fort Knox (July 17, 2015) – Acrophobia, or fear of heights, is one of the most common fears people can have. At Cadet Initial Entry Training, instructors use the first day of training to teach confidence at the Forest Hills Climbing Course – hoisting cadets up to obstacles of varying heights designed to make them conquer their fears.
“Confidence is the key here,” said Lt. Col. Matt Sober, 8th Regiment’s Tactical Officer and Professor of Military Science at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. “The design is confidence in self, then confidence in equipment, then confidence in training.”
Cadets rotated through three stations: a fifty-foot rock climbing wall with several angles and lanes, an obstacle climb with nets and platforms the cadets had to pull themselves onto, and a ropes course that gradually increased in height, ending with a zip line. In between stations cadets hydrated and remained in the shade, trying to acclimate to the Kentucky summer heat.
While some feared the obstacles, others enjoyed them, grinning as they clutched at small handholds at extreme angles, secured by a harness fixed to a belay line held by a cadet down below.
“My battle buddy was afraid but he got up there just fine,” said Cadet John Evans, also from Shippensburg University. “It’s a lot of fun, it was a good challenge…it was good physical exercise.
A large part of the confidence course is team building, where cadets realize their strengths and weaknesses and those of their squad mates. This knowledge is crucial for later operations in the field. So far, 8th Regiment has established itself as one of the stronger groups at CIET.
“This group is fired up,” Sober said. “20 percent of them go to junior military colleges…they’re pretty motivated.”
As CIET truly begins its training cycle, MSIII leadership that just finished the Cadet Leadership Course step in to lead them. Cadet Bradley Crow of St. Bonaventure University in New York is assigned to 8th Regiment for several days, his job to mentor and shape new squad leaders for when he leaves. He volunteered for the position and his charisma showed on the ropes course, swinging down on a zip line while giving the “thumbs up” to a Public Affairs photographer the whole time.
“This is the most motivated company I’ve seen at CST,” Crow said after he finished the ropes course. “It’s awesome.” He also taught classes on drill and ceremony, the Center of Army Professionalism and Ethics, and critical thinking, taking any opportunity to provide extra training to the CIET cadets under him.
The next three days for 8th Regiment are Cadet Rifle Training, where they the M-16 rifle inside and out. After several hours spent at Forest Hills, they will have the confidence to properly use their weapon systems in training and in future conflicts across the globe.