Advanced Camp

Cadets of 8th Regiment Advanced Camp (Cadet Leaders Course) partake in Weapon Recovery

FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets of 8th Regiment Advanced Camp (Cadet Leaders Course), Alpha and Bravo Companies, turned in equipment and performed weapon maintenance to concluded their 14 vigorous days of field training as part of Weapon Recovery at the Cadet Summer Training (CST) Regimental Area July 28.

Cdt. Justin Thomas, Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana, uses a brush to clean the dust and rust from his M-240 machine gun during the recovery process after a long mission in the field on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

Cdt. Justin Thomas, Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana, uses a brush to clean the dust and rust from his M-240 machine gun during the recovery process after a long mission in the field on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

During weapon recovery, the Cadets had to go through a thorough weapons check and maintenance. They had to meticulously clean out their equipment, gear, and weapon that they used out in the field.

Cadets had opportunities to fire their weapons as part of their training. It was essential that they paid close attention to details to clean all the dirt and gunpowder out of their weapons so the equipment and weapons will be ready to be used again by the Cadets next year.

“So basically, we are breaking down the M240, the M4 carbine, and the M249 Squad Assault Weapons, cleaning them out and making sure that they are ready for the next Cadets going through training,” Cdt. Vijay Ahluwalia, Western Kentucky University, explained.

Weapon Recovery also marks the beginning of the end of CST, as the Cadets of 8th Regiment Advanced Camp are getting ready to graduate. The majority of Cadets reflected on their progress and experiences in the past weeks of training.

Some Cadets focused on their own personal developments based on their own interactions with their battle buddies throughout the training. They had to work with different individuals with various personalities from around the states, in addition to the constant heat index at 90 degrees and challenging missions every day.

Cdt. Reeves Matthews, the Citadel Military College of South Carolina, cleans his M-240 machine gun before retuning it during the recovery process at regiment area on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

Cdt. Reeves Matthews, the Citadel Military College of South Carolina, cleans his M-240 machine gun before retuning it during the recovery process at regiment area on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

“The experience was torturous in some ways. Due to lack of sleep, extreme heat conditions, getting to know everyone, personalities clashing, and working as a team. Eventually, the days went on and they would get better,” Cdt. Aaron Michael Eckstrand, University of North Florida, said about his experience going through CST. “I feel like we got a lot stronger as the days went on. All in all, everyone gained from all the setbacks that we had in the beginning.”

Other Cadets focused on improving their teamwork and leadership skills. The training consisted a lot of individual tasks, but they are meant to bring the Cadets together to work as a unit.

“I have to work on asserting myself as a leader. When you’re in front a group of people, you need to make sure they know who is in charge and what’s going on. I definitely learned a lot from other’s leadership styles. I learned something from everyone here and I am going to take that back with me,” Cdt. Natalie Watkins, University of Kentucky, shared.

Cdt. Daniella Harper, Kansas State University, use a cleaning rod to clean the chamber of her weapon during the recovery process after a long mission in the field on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

Cdt. Daniella Harper, Kansas State University, use a cleaning rod to clean the chamber of her weapon during the recovery process after a long mission in the field on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

Groups of Cadets were also selected to learn about different cultures through the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP) as part of their summer training. Those Cadets got a chance to break out of their usual environment and experience something completely new, which varied from daily cuisines to high altitude climates.

“We were the first ROTC group of Cadets ever to go to Nepal, so we primarily interacted with the generals over there. We taught them military-to-military tactics; they taught us some of what they knew,” Ahluwalia shared of his experiences with CULP.

The training might appear to be uniform and repetitive from afar, however, each individual Cadet and cadre member have different perspectives from going through CST and reasons why they were doing it.

“It is to understand the importance of why you’re doing something instead of just ‘this is what we are going to do. Go execute’ – to try to understand the ‘why’ behind it, why are we doing it – just to have a higher understanding, higher level of learning,” Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bent, Observer Trainer Mentor from University of North Georgia, said.

 

 

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Linh Nguyen

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