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Army ROTC learns new skills from different perspective

Nov. 2, 2010

By Courtney Skelly

Baylor Army ROTC battled more than witches and ghouls during its Halloween weekend, as cadets participated in a two-day field exercise designed to test skills and reinforce teamwork.

The battalion consisted of 61 cadets, ranging from freshmen to graduate school students. The events started Friday morning.

The first event put the cadets through Baylor's high ropes course at Eastland Lakes.

The cadets participated in four stations: the trust jump, ladder climb, log walk and a hanging swing walk, all performed more than 20 feet above the ground.

The ropes course was designed to get the cadets out of their comfort zone.

"You get guys that are studs at physical training, but get them up in the air strapped into a harness, and the game changes," Major Tim Childress, assistant professor of military science, said. "You can see their hands start to shake."

King George, Va., junior Brian Crookshank, cadet first sergeant, also believes the ropes course revealed cadets' inner character.

"Doing a ropes course is doing something you normally wouldn't do like going up really high," Crookshank said. "There are a lot of freshmen that the first element they did they were really slow and it looked really difficult for them, but as they progressed and went on to the fourth and fifth task they went to, they were more enthusiastic and they did it a lot quicker because they knew they could handle it."

After the ropes course was completed, cadets traveled to Speegleville to complete the field training.

Upon arrival, the cadets built their tents, or "hooches," for the night using their ponchos and sleeping mats. Once completed, cadets sat down for a quick lunch of MRE's, or "meals ready to eat."

The younger cadets then attended brief orienteering classes preparing them to go through a basic land navigation test.

A land navigation test requires a cadet to find three geological points given to them using only the coordinates provided within a three-hour window of time.

The basic land navigation test, which the level one and two cadets were given, had three points that were only about 200 yards away from one another. The more advanced land navigation test given to the level three cadets was more challenging.

Level three cadets completed both a day land navigation test and a night land navigation test.

"The initial goal was to take the cadets, mainly the threes, out in a field environment where they can essentially practice running squad exercises," Weatherford senior Zack Bingaman, cadet company commander, said. "Out of that group, we have some pretty good ones."

On Saturday, cadets finished their field training by performing battle exercises against "enemy forces" of fellow cadets. A level three cadet led each exercise against enemy forces, each side equipped with paintball guns.

While it was only the level three cadets being graded on their abilities to command each exercise, level one and two cadets were along for a very interesting ride under the command of the level three cadets.

They were graded on the land navigation, the squad exercises and if they completed the mission.

"It's pretty fun," Bingaman said. "They get a paintball gun in their hands and get to shoot people."