'Light 'em up' : UAF ROTC cadets participate in joint training with UAA

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
April 17, 2012

An Army ROTC cadet signals his teammates at the training program on April 13, 2012. Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star

“Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, light ‘em up, I will give the call to cease fire,” UAF ROTC Sergeant Major Erin Walsh said as she commanded her cadets. The cadets were ambushing the OpFor, the opposing force.

She chose to take her cadets through the thick part of the forest rather than the open terrain at Fort Wainwright’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility. This was only part of the first day of this semester’s ROTC field training exercise, held April 13-15.

In a real war zone, soldiers can be easily spotted in more open terrain, said UAF/UAA ROTC Battalion Commander Caleb Frazier. 

National Guard military aircraft transported UAA cadets, who joined forces with UAF during this semester’s training program.

This three-day training program is held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. It prepares juniors and seniors for the summer Leadership Development Assessment Course in Ft. Lewis, Wash. under less intense conditions. It also allows freshmen and sophomores to get a feel for the basics of what they will learn in preparation for their junior and senior years.

The Washington course is a graded month-long camp where cadets from everywhere in the nation train and go through a selection process that determines what they will do in the Army, what kind of jobs they will hold and whether they will be active duty or National Guard Reserves, Carson said.

“This is the first time some of these cadets have seen each other. The Fairbanks and Anchorage kids work together. That’s the learning too is getting along with other people,” UAF and UAA Professor of Military Science Adam Carson said.

“They all desire to serve in the Army in some shape or form as an officer once they get their degree,” Carson said.

An Army ROTC cadet signals aims towards the OpFor, or enemies, at the training program on April 13, 2012. Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star

The training programs at UAF and UAA are pretty comparable, according to Robert Cheek, who is currently in the National Guard and in his first year of ROTC at UAA. Last semester’s programs did not involve paintball guns, but this semester the joint program did.

Superiors evaluated junior and senior cadets who lead squads through various missions based on planning and execution. Squad leaders led their cadets through ambushes, quietly finding and engaging the enemy after being provided a location.  Cadets also participated in reconnaissance missions, deliberate attacks on known objectives, and a collective ambush. Freshman cadets role-played as the OpFor.

Squad leaders are evaluated on skills such as leadership, physical fitness, confidence, communication, ability to motivate and comprehension of the mission, said Master Sergeant George Pegues, senior military instructor for UAF/UAA. This evaluation serves as a prerequisite for attending the course in Washington, so if squad leaders do well they go forward, but if not they get held back from attending the final course in Washington.

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