By: Alex Mclaughlin
Photo By:Erica Lafser
FORT KNOX, Kentucky—
8th Regt. Cadets awoke early Tuesday with one goal: complete the land navigation training course.
The night portion of land navigation training requires cadets to plot and find four points in forested terrain with a map, protractor, compass and a small red light to help them read the map.
Normally Cadets would complete this training solo, but due to the intense heat at Fort Knox and the high chance of heat casualties, Cadets completed the training with help from a battle buddy.
Leadership Development Assessment Course Cadets Zach Gust and Andrew Speciale made up a 2-man battle buddy team that successfully navigated the heavily forested terrain in the dead of night.
Furthermore, the points that Cadets must locate are marked by a small pole coming out of the ground surrounded by a few rocks which have been painted red.
Gust, ROTC Cadet at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in La Crosse, said Land Navigation was challenging, but the leadership at his University gave him much time to practice his map-reading skills before LDAC.
“They really push land nav hard on us back at our program,” Gust said. “Today it paid off. We got off course at point one, but we had the skill set to fix it quickly.”
This type of map reading is different from navigating a heavily populated area. Civilians usually have the luxury of road names and large businesses. Cadets are lucky to find any distinguishable landmarks to help them along their way. They must rely on their own survival skills to ensure they reach their checkpoints.
Speciale, ROTC Cadet at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said land navigation training tests Cadets’ ability to adapt to difficult situations.
“Land nav is really about finding what works best for you,” Speciale said. “It requires a lot of practice. Everyone eventually finds a way that works best for him or her. Navigating at night really makes you get creative with how you complete the course.”