FORT KNOX, Ky. – Fighting off enemies to survive in the wilderness while leading an entire company is unlike any other experience Cdt. Thomas Morgan has ever had, he shares. He is a senior studying international relations at American University.
“That was something that I’d never trained for, being in charge of that many people. It was definitely a shock for me going in and being in charge of this big of an operation,” Morgan said.
Cdt. Morgan and his Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) peers are tested mentally and physically in realistic combat scenarios for 11 days during Mission Context Leadership Exercise (MCLX).
MCLX is a rigorous field training exercise new to Cadet Summer Training (CST) 2016.
CLC Cadets are sent to Atropia, a recovering country that was destroyed during war by the neighboring country Ariana.
1st Lt. Kyle Childress of Ft. Carson, Colo., a role player for MCLX, explains the importance of this training event.
“This whole exercise is meant to test their critical-thinking skills and their problem-solving skills,” Childress said.
A culminating event for CST, MCLX scenarios push CLC Cadets to apply and demonstrate proficiency in skills they’ve gained during their time at Cadet Summer Training (CST).
That skill set includes administering first-aid to wounded Soldiers in the midst of a firefight, leading tactical formations to engage enemy forces, and employing hand grenades and firing machine guns.
Cadets are also required to engage media while in a war-torn environment and build rapport with local civilian populations.
“There’s a lot of different moving parts. It’s a very fluid environment, so you need to think and you need to be on your toes constantly because things can always change,” said Cdt. Alec Schwartz, a senior majoring in biology at Saint John’s University from Mendota Heights, Minn.
The fluid environment is an excellent teaching tool when it comes to adaptability, according to Morgan.
“I’ve learned more in the last two days about adaptability and leadership than the rest of my time here. I got very little sleep, it was very stressful, and not everything went perfectly. Making a plan and having it fall apart everyday; it does help you learn how to adapt and how to lead, even if it’s not fun at the time,” Morgan expressed.
Childress shared that he is “really impressed” by the Cadets’ initiative.
“They would talk specifically to my villagers and help them build something, whether it be for their shop or something like that,” Childress noted. “No one’s telling them to do these things. They’re coming up with them on their own.”