The Northwoods Battalion 2015 Fall Detachment Leadership Development Exercise was conducted at the Cadott School Forest on September 25-27.
The exercise was aimed at the following key tasks:
- Develop greater understanding of land navigation
- Focus on problem solving
- Employ squad/platoon movement techniques
- Enforce ownership of training
- Team building/engaging events
- Exposure to company level operations
- Safety of cadets.
Twenty-two cadets from UW-Eau Claire took part in the exercise, along with 24 cadets from UW-Stout and eight cadets from UW-River Falls.
The training was targeted at developing leadership skills in stressful situations within a tactical environment. For many of our participating freshman this was their first Army "field" experience and as such it was also intended to provide an idea of what a career in the Army might be like.
In order to add some complexity and provide some realism to the environment (as well as have fun) paintball guns were used for the duration of the weekend. This really forced cadets to move with a purpose through the woods and gets the heart racing, no better way to validate planning!
The event itself is a result of countless hours of planning by the seniors (MS IVs) of the program. All ROTC events are planned by the cadets with oversight/mentorship by cadre of the program who are current Army personnel. The logistical requirement for feeding 54 cadets for three days alone is a challenge, add to this paintball guns, CO2, paint, night vision goggles, handheld radios, military communications equipment, tents, contracts for portable latrines, batteries for all of the equipment and all of the other small details and the complexity of this event is impressive for a student to manage.
The movement and deconfliction of units across the battlespace is its own issue. These events are utilized as a developmental tool for upperclassmen to hone planning abilities and begin to understand some of the more complex problems that you may be faced with as an Army officer. The slide below shows to what extent unit movement was planned and orchestrated across the small space we were operating within.
Each of the missions conducted were followed with an After Action Review (AAR) which assisted the cadets take the information/lessons learned from the operation and translate them into gains for the next operation. These constructive sessions also foster an environment for team building and cadets begin to work together as a fluid unit to accomplish the task at hand.
It is also important as a member of the Army to remain physically fit. Cadets were challenged in this dimension throughout the weekend but specifically during the 2.5 mile road march and the battle focused PT session.
Challenging training that is well developed and safely executed is also lots of fun and at the end of a weekend long exercise of very little sleep and demanding events all of the feedback was positive. This demonstrates that when asked to embrace a challenge these cadets were more than willing to go the distance and made some great friends in the process.
Thank you to all of those who made this event possible and to those who participated.