By Tanner Cole
The first regiments of Fort Knox’s first-ever Leader Development and Assessment Course arrived today. ROTC college students flew in from all over the country for the Army’s largest Cadet training exercise in the continental United States.
The Cadets are entering into an intensive evaluation experience. Their performance in the next 28 days will determine the extent of their role in the Army and radically impact their potential career paths.
Fortunately for the Cadets, they will be led by a team of mentors who previously went through LDAC themselves. This team – the cadre – includes officers such as 2nd Lt. Matthew Coble who are intent on helping the Cadets improve themselves. The change in venue reflects small changes in the evaluation itself.
“It’s definitely not a stagnant program, LDAC,” Coble said. “It’s constantly evolving. It still tries to instill the personal attributes of leadership qualities. It’s fun watching the Cadets, all the wheels turn as they solve problems.”
Last year Coble went through the program himself, but his training took place at LDAC’s previous location, Fort Lewis, Washington. Now that the training site has moved, the Cadet training is evolving to meet the changing needs of the Army. Positions previously referred to as evaluators are now mentors. The program serves to identify the competency of the Cadets, and changes to this year’s course allow Cadre to develop those skills as well.
Col. Scott Kubica, who helped to oversee the Cadets’ arrival and move-in, is working to overcome any potential problems the transition may endure.
“Yeah, there will be hiccups,” Kubica said. “There always is on the first go around. But we’ll ID them and fix them. We’ll make sure everything is resourced properly and identify things that could be more efficient.”
Now that they have arrived, the Cadets are in for several days of in-processing followed by close to a month of rigorous testing. Many hail from military schools and are therefore expected to perform excellently and be chosen for active duty after graduating LDAC. Most cannot wait to begin.
“I’ve trained all the way up to this point, and I know exactly what I’ve got to do,” Vernon, New Jersey Cadet Kurt Rossi said. “I’m just going to go out there and do it.”
LDAC represents a final test for the cadets. They’ve studied military science during their college years and are ready to move on. For many Cadets, the course is just another stage on the Army career path, but for some this training is an important stepping stone in the pursuit of the order that the Army provides.
Cadet Kathryn Simecek of Twinsburg, Ohio, found stability in her life once she joined the Army. The rigid structure allowed her to make positive changes to her lifestyle and get things on course. For Simecek, this month of training and testing is one last step to solidifying the strides she’s made in life and will allow her to represent Ohio State University.
“I went through a year-and-a-half of college and I had no direction,” Simecek said. “I went through seven different majors, failed a couple classes, had no direction. As soon as I explored what ROTC was it all clicked.”
LDAC has begun, and its evaluations are soon to be underway. Luckily, the cadets arrived at Fort Knox ready for the challenge, and those like Simecek are eager to learn from it.