by DeJanay Booth
Photo By: Josh Newell
Their eyes shift left and right. Someone approaches them. They walk slowly down a trail. The greeting seemed innocent enough. Hoping not step on the explosive, they look down at their feet. They’re welcomed in a village and introduced to other members. They spot an unusual area in the dirt. They’re invited to play games and help around the village. Not looking, a Cadet steps on an area, disengaging a landmine. A civilian lures one Cadet into a building.
They have to stay alert. The atmosphere became uncomfortable for the soldiers. Be focus at all times. The landmine was released. They must understand their surroundings. The civilians asked multiple questions about food and medicine. Pay attention to detail.
Cultural awareness and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) encouraged Cadets in LDAC Regiments Three and Four to examine everyone and everything around them.
The training puts Cadets in a scenario where they react to situations involving meeting civilians in another country and walking along an explosive area.
Capt. Lloyd Bedford, an assistant professor from Syracuse University in Syracuse, and a platoon tactical training officer, said: “[They’re] trying to have them understand different cultures while out on patrol. It’s not just you trying to find IEDs. You’re always interacting with a local populous area.”
Cadets were split up and sent to different stations for IEDs and cultural awareness. Lt. Col. Lorenzo Rios, officer in charge of cultural awareness and IED, said it’s essential for the Cadets to study the location and appreciate other cultures while maintaining the security and being mindful of one’s surroundings.
“What you see isn’t always actually happening,” Rios said, a professor from California State University-Fresno in Fresno. “Unless you take the time to understand the perspective of the other, you may compromise security because you may react to something that wasn’t really there.”
Rios said the two trainings are vastly different from one another but they both deliver the same message: staying alert and focus.
As a group of Cadets approached the village, they were greeted by one of the villagers, giving them a hug and kiss on the cheek. Slowly, the soldiers walked through, making sure to have security around the squad leader.
The civilian introduces the squad to his father — the elder — offering the leader a seat by the fire pit with him. Cadets continue to watch their surroundings as they walked around the village, interacting with other villagers. The civilian talked to the other Cadets and asked for medicine. His face lights up, thinking he finally had what he asked for. He ran to his father to tell him about, but his joy fizzled like a candle when he discovers it was not what he wanted.
“Why did you lie?” he yelled. In the blink of an eye, he grabs the squad leader’s gun preparing to shoot. Suddenly the village’s police officer came to the scene and apprehends the civilian.
“Cut. What did you guys think?” a master sergeant said to the Cadets sitting in the bleachers, looking at the action. In discussion, they talked about the scene and what their reaction was to parts of it. One pointed out that although there was security, the squad still needs to watch their environment.
Rios said having the Cadets watch a scenario and participate in it is an effective way for them to learn and understand the concept.
“By actually being put in a situation where they’re in a simulated village with folks from that country and having to interact, they have to apply the tools that they’ve been empowered with,” he said. “At this point in time they realize it’s not as easy at it seems. They then become the teacher and the student.”
Cadet Andrew Ellis, a student from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., said he enjoyed the training because they will become future leaders and it’s something that they have to be familiar with.
“You have to be able to switch the hat and be the buddy or good guy,” Ellis said, who is as the end of camp commission. “You have to be able to be personable.” Ellis said some parts of the IED training surprised him, but he had an idea of what it was like.
“I would be concentrated on one thing, thinking it might be an IED, and we would get the horn blown on the other side.”
Cadets walked down a hill searching for areas that could have an IED. Slowly, looking down in front of them, they’re unaware that one of their squad members has just stepped on one. A horn blares through the wind, stopping the squad in their tracks. The horn indicated that someone stepped on an explosive device.
“Boom!” the cadre holding the horn shouted, imitating an explosion. “You lost a squad member. You have to look all around you, not just your feet.”
Backing up, the squad started from the top, paying more attention to their setting