Sitting in a tent taking notes feverishly while fighting the heat, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets of 9th Regiment listened intently to the Road to War briefing to better understand their time at the Leader Development and Assessment Course.
Road to War puts Cadets in the mindset of being in a fictional country, Atropia, rather than at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. They learn about the culture, which has similarities to some of the regions where American forces are currently deployed or have recently been deployed.
This training is a big deal for future leaders of America to be introduced to what deployed troops go through.
“This is the single largest exercise in the Army that is actually shaping what the future leaders are going to look like,” said Lt. Col. Lance Englet. “I believe there is no other college course or internship that is quite like this one.”
Sent to Atropia to conduct stability operations, Cadets learn about the region through a series of slides that include information about language, customs, religion and the region itself.
Continuing to take notes throughout the briefing, the future commissioned officers learn about the history of Atropia, where it is today and why they are needed in the region. Those Cadets who speak Spanish, the language of Atropia, were singled out to be the interpreters when Cadets come in contact with Atropians.
Cadets took away lessons from the briefing they will use throughout the duration of LDAC to conduct their operations.
“Mainly we learned the do’s and don’ts that are going to be mission critical to making sure while trying to complete the mission, that we don’t do cultural things that may offend forces that we’re working with and hinder mission success,” said 9th Reg. Cadet Colby Thomason of the University of Oregon.
The Road to War briefing is similar to what Soldiers go through as part of pre-deployment. At LDAC, Cadets listened to several speakers give them information that is necessary to be successful for their training.
Later, Cadets will take part in Culture Awareness where they interact with the locals of Atropia, providing humanitarian aid and gathering intel on the insurgency group in the area. The Road to War briefing sets them up to be successful at LDAC.
“I definitely learned a lot,” said 9th Reg. Cadet Jessica Harner of Wofford College. “It is obvious that we really need to respect other cultures and take that into consideration when conducting these operations.”
Trying to put themselves into the mindset that they are in Atropia and not at JBLM, Cadets filed out of the large tent into the sun, ready to begin their training and looking forward to the next few weeks at LDAC.
Story by Sara Nahrwold.