Concealed in the tall grass with their faces camouflaged and leaves and branches strategically placed in their helmets, 12th Regiment Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets provide security support for fellow Cadets raiding a village at Platoon Training.
As part of the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Cadets have two days of Platoon Training, each day focusing on two 6-hour missions where Cadets are in charge of a platoon of 45.
“You get to know your squad of only about 10 people over the month so you can work with them pretty well,” said 12th Reg. Cadet Tyler Smotherman of the University of Idaho. “Then you have to deal with 44 people and lead them and sometimes personalities clash. You have to learn to work with all types.”
Platoon training is a culminating event at LDAC that combines what Cadets have learned, including Culture Awareness, Land Navigation, Squad Tactics and other types of training.
For some, Platoon Training is the first time they are in charge of such a large group. At many universities, only squad level training is possible because they don’t have the numbers.
“It will definitely set them up for once they get commissioned as a lieutenant because most of them will go into active duty Army and will have 45 Soldiers they are going to be in charge of,” said Lt. Col. Michael Feret who evaluates Cadets. “We want them to understand the fundamentals of tactics and leadership for leading a platoon potentially into combat.”
In a grassy open area, three buildings resembled a village in the fictional country of Atropia where Cadets are conducting operations. Working in teams, Cadets invaded the houses, finding Sapa members, the insurgency group in the region, and detaining them.
“It has been fantastic coming together with everything we’ve learned,” said 12th Reg. Cadet Jacob Kite of New Castle University, U.K.
This training will help the future Army officers with leading and following in a bigger group of Soldiers. It’s important for Cadets to realize the training at LDAC does not stop once they graduate.
“A lot of kids think once they finish LDAC they are done,” said Feret. “The important thing is we try to stress to them that you are never done in the Army with your education. You continue learning.”
After going through the mission, Cadre help Cadets with what went right and wrong. Although there are only two days of Platoon Training, they are intense and will prepare them to lead platoons upon graduation from LDAC or college.
After finishing their mission, Cadets march onto the next 6-hour one, ready to learn more in order to effectively lead their fellow Soldiers.
“No matter your branch, I think [Platoon Training] is going to help immensely because it teaches you some basic leadership skills,” said Smothernan. “It’s a great vehicle to teach you how to manage people, manage your time and harness that aggression and warrior ethos in a controlled environment.”
Story by Sara Nahrwold.