Camp Eagle serves as home for Field Training Exercise
The Comanche Battalion, Cameron University’s branch of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, recently completed its first Field Training Exercise (FTX) of the semester at the Camp Eagle training facility on Fort Sill. The FTX lasted from Sept. 27-29.
Lt. Col. David Zaccheus, Professor of Military Science and Chair of the Military Science Department, said the FTX was meant as an introduction for new ROTC students to experience real-world combat situations.
It was a way for upper-classmen to feel what it is like to step into a leadership role on the battlefield; the experience also helps prepare juniors for participation in the Leader Development Assessment Course, which they will attend the summer before their senior year.
“Our juniors will be going to LDAC next summer,” Zaccheus said, “so we have made them squad leaders for this exercise, with our sophomores and freshmen as team leaders and squad members.”
Zaccheus said the FTX was comprised of various types of training scenarios: a team confidence course, which focused on building team cohesion; a land navigation course, in which students practiced reading a map and plotting a course to an objective; and two Situation Training Exercises (STX).
CDT Patrick Perez, freshman ROTC student, said he appreciated the many learning opportunities the training provided for him on his first FTX ever.
“The FTX has been really good because it helps us to put all of our training together; every new thing we learn builds on the last thing we learned. Here, we get to put it all into practice,” Perez said.
Zaccheus said the juniors are still in the “walking” phase as leaders, meaning they still receive on-the-spot suggestions and critiques of their leadership during the exercises. He also said a big part of the training is seeing how well the squad leaders handle various types of pressure.
“They are stressed, both physically and mentally out here,” Zaccheus said. “They have had very little sleep. They have had to deal with the weather, and they practice going through their maneuvers up until its dark. We like for the stress level to be cranked high so that they feel uncomfortable; it gives the students a chance for self-evaluation, to understand how to react under these conditions.”
The stress level is consistently high; the cadre evaluates each junior, grading him or her on things such as physical fitness, military bearing, mental agility, communication skills and ability to complete the mission.
Their peers also critique them. Senior cadets observe, take notes and offer advice to the juniors about how to improve and what to expect at LDAC.
CDT Charles Holbrook, a senior student in the ROTC, said he remembers being a squad leader last year and was happy to have that stress behind him. However, he admitted that he was able to use the lessons he learned from the FTX when he went through LDAC.
“I could see why the training was important while I was going through it, but I can see it even more now,” he said. “As seniors, we are still learning because we learn to be mentors.” CDT Candice Ortiz, ROTC junior, said the FTX helped her to see the real-world applications of the things the cadets study in the classroom.
“Preparing for LDAC, FTX helps us juniors to understand the stress we will be put under, but it is also enlightening for the freshmen and sophomores because they get to practice what they have learned,” Ortiz said. “In the classroom, you see it written down, but actually having hands on training, it puts everything together.”