ROTC Prepares cadets for summer training


Cadet Duong, one of the facilitators of the field training exercise, reviews the squad leader’s plan of action to ensure a higher chance of success.

On Nov. 6, 2020, Tarleton’s ROTC program held their Field Training Exercise for cadets at Tarleton’s Hunewell Ranch. Commonly referred to as FTX, it allows cadets to train and apply their knowledge in simulated combat scenarios. This prepares them for their final steps to commission as an officer in the Army, and to be strong leaders on the combat field.

“What we want to do is get repetitions in. Our juniors will go off to [Cadet Summer Training] where they will be evaluated on all of these tasks with cadets from across the nation,” Operations and Logistics officer, Cadet Maggie Denning said.

Cadet Summer Training is a training and evaluation camp, held by the U.S. Army, for ROTC cadets to attend. This camp serves as their final examination to determine if they will be commissioned as officers in the army.

“It is an approximate 38 day event, and for two of those weeks, they live in the woods, and they are running as if they are an actual platoon of soldiers in combat,” Assistant professor of Military Science, Cpt. James Forbes, said. “They change leadership, platoon leader and squad leaders, throughout the camp. That way, everyone gets a chance to lead some different things and be graded on that, and they go from mission to mission to mission for two weeks. And that’s what that camp is and that’s effectively what we’re doing on a smaller scale.”

Forbes explained that their decisive operation behind holding their variation of the field training exercise is to allow for the junior of the program, labeled as MS3’s, to have the potential to finish Cadet Summer Training amongst the top 25 percent of all the ROTC cadets in the nation. Finishing amongst the top would allow Tarleton’s cadets to have more options and opportunities when they commission into the army.

This is done by giving the MS3’s a chance to lead the Freshman and Sophomores, designated as MS1’s and MS2’s, through the combat scenarios, so that they can apply their leadership skills and their knowledge of military tactics to accomplish the goal of the scenario.

“Our goal is to run the MS3 and the MS2’s and the MS1’s through lanes and get them practice on these skills so that way when they go to camp, they can practice and they can execute,” Denning said. “When you are in a pressure situation like [what they are training] you don’t want that to be your first time to experience it.”

For many cadets, FTX is a challenging experience, but it is also a fun and eye opening one. For MS3 cadet Paxton Layman his FTX experience in Fort Hood, TX last year was his toughest, but it allowed him the opportunity to gain experience and an understanding of how to be an effective leader.

“We just had a lot people fall out in the heat and get sick, all that kind of stuff,” Layman said. “While it made everything more challenging it gave me a deeper understanding of how to run these lanes, and operations and stuff like that because I had to assume three roles in a platoon instead of just one. These FTX are a great training value, not only to me, but to cadets as a whole.”

Layman contracted and is set to commission into the U.S. Army upon graduation. He hopes to be able to operate in a branching infantry division of the Army and apply what he has learned in ROTC.

Cadet Denning coordinates the field training from this station. Here, she keeps a running log of where each squad is in each lane.

“Specifically for the track that I want to go, it’s extremely helpful because a lot of the stuff that we train in army ROTC is the basis of what you need to know as an infantry officer,” Layman said. He also explained that this training is standard, as army officers must know the basis of operating an infantry platoon.

For the ROTC cadets, this series of FTX plays a role in applying their skills and being tested to be able to commission as an army officer. Overall, the purpose of these field training exercises is more than just getting the highest marks.

“In combat, you have to know how to do an ambush; in combat, you need to know how to do a movement to contact in your defense. These are just common army infantry tasks. So we practice over and over and over so we’re not just successful here and successful at camp, but more importantly we’re successful in war,” Forbes said.

Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Tarleton’s Army ROTC has continued to train and educate cadets to prepare them to be great officers and greater leaders in the U.S. Army, helping to defend our nation.

“I’ll be able to learn a lot more and expand those ideas and become an even better officer,” Layman said.