The U.S. Army has a reputation for innovation, whether it’s through technological advances, inventive policies or state-of-the-art training. For Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets at the Leader Development and Assessment Course, training has been attuned to continue a legacy of educated and confident leaders. This summer, Cadre at the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. are attempting to put extra emphasis on the developmental aspect of training.
“In the past, every day you were graded on something,” said Lt. Col. David Meyer, chief of the tactics committee from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “We’re looking now at how much did you learn, how well did you perform, how did you perform when you weren’t in leadership, and are you a good teammate.”
This summer, Cadets receive four assessments instead of six. Other adjustments have been made for specific training exercises, most notably at the tactics course. Here, two days are used for training and instruction and the last four days are split between squad situational training exercises and platoon operations. In years past, four straight days of squad training were evaluated.
For the first time, Cadets are leading platoons through patrolling lanes. Each platoon has 48 Cadets that are divided into four squads.
“The platoon operation is meant to be a culminating exercise where they get to bring together every bit of the things they ‘ve learned throughout LDAC and grow and learn and stretch,” said Meyer. “It’s the first time Cadets have to experience indirect leadership.”
Platoon operations are unique for Cadets since many college ROTC programs can rarely provide necessary resources to offer similar simulations. Tactics is also a chance for Cadets to push themselves beyond their limits after weeks of tiresome training.
“By the time they come to us, they’re on their twenty-third of 29 training days, and they’re as beat down as they’re ever going to be,” said Meyer. “This is meant to stress them and give them an experience they’ve never had before: to get them to learn about themselves and their peers.”
With its crucial position in LDAC, it’s no wonder that tactics has taken major strides to emphasize Cadet development. Still, the changes have required some adjustment and Cadre are navigating the new comprehensive evaluation system. Meyer said the committee is still experimenting and making sure that the training is providing Cadets with what they need.
As for the future, Meyer hopes LDAC can continue to be even more focused on development. He is a strong advocate of tactics training and sees instruction as more beneficial than straight assessment.
“By bringing them out here and putting them into these challenging complex environments with people they don’t know, they’re forced to use all the lessons they’ve learned about building a team and human dynamics and teamwork and followership,” said Meyer. “The things that we’re learning about the Cadets and the things they’re learning about themselves can’t be simulated anywhere else.”
Story by Samantha Saldivar.