Around the World with ROTC


Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) is the ultimate thirty days of training to prepare Army ROTC cadets to become the future leaders of the United States Army. During this training there were multiple events where cadets tested their mental and physical toughness. Cadets are introduced to drill sergeants where they obtain the basics and lessons in military discipline. In later days, one event is the repel tower. Cadets learn to tie their own Swiss seats (a harness), get buckled into the line, and repel down sixty feet of wall. Cadets are also introduced to the gas chamber at CIET. They are suited up in protective suits and masks. This purpose of this event is to not only introduce them to gas, but to also gain confidence in their equipment. The gas chamber has CS (orto-chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile) gas, more commonly known as tear gas. Cadets enter the gas chamber, are ordered to take off their mask, breathe and answer some questions. Upon exiting, they walk in a circle, flapping their hands, blinking their eyes and regaining normal composure. CIET offers cadets first hand experiences that help gain their knowledge about military equipment, discipline and procedures in order to become more confident in becoming the next leader for the United States Army.

-Cadet Misti Nicely

For CIET, we spent about 20 days out in the field. Some of this time we stayed in Tent City, sleeping in giant tents with rows of cots, but we mostly stayed in patrol bases setting up camp in the woods. Out there we built hooches (small shelters) to sleep in, otherwise we laid right out under the stars. We ran missions with M16s day and night (in the intense Kentucky heat), always on our toes watching out for SAPA, the enemy forces in Atropia (our mock deployment site). During the day we worked on squad tactic exercises. We learned how to plan and execute missions, such as reaction to enemy contact, an ambush and reconnaissance, so that we could provide aid to the people of Atropia. Always on the lookout for enemy forces, we treated everything as if we were the real thing. At night we pulled security and had to retaliate to enemy fire on our patrol base. To end it all, we planned a platoon mission to destroy SAPA that was found to be in a town, and capture a high value target. Although missions didn’t always go as planned, getting cadets out in the field and giving us hands on experience was a great learning experience, as well as a solid introduction to what a key part of life in the army is like.

-Cadet Mikaela Nowak

This past summer, the US Army gave me the chance to travel to the warm heart of Africa through the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program. After requesting a Military-Military mission in Africa, I was granted the opportunity to train with the Malawi Defense Force.  Every day we learned something new such as: how to judge distance by sight picture, how to move as a squad, how to assemble/disassemble an M16A1, 9mm pistol and General Purpose Machine Gun. After a long day of training we had the evening to relax on the beach. On the weekends we participated in cultural events. One weekend, we went to a crocodile farm. A few crocodiles jumped at us, and we were only protected by a chain-link fence. Another weekend we traveled to a traditional Malawi village to view traditional dance and what life is like for someone in Malawi. It was humbling to see how people lived in Malawi compared to the States. My favorite event was a 12-mile hike through Senga Hills. We were able to get spectacular views atop of several hills as the sun rose in the morning, and was something I will never forget. We all saw zebra, baboons, ostrich, antelope, snakes, and wildebeest.

-Cadet Joseph Rebholz

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Cape Verde with the Army ROTC CULP Program. While in Cape Verde, myself and other cadets from the United States worked with a local community center for children and helped them to create a clean, safe and healthy environment for kids during the summer. Additionally, we were able to play with the local kids every day, build them a sturdy shelter on their roof, and help pick up garbage in the community surrounding the center. Outside of providing humanitarian aid, we taught Cape Verdean soldiers English. Every afternoon we engaged in enriching dialogue with these soldiers, and through this we gained better insight into the everyday lives of soldiers and military families in Cape Verdean. We also learned about the different parts of their military, how they conduct training, and the history of the country’s independence. My team was able to do a lot of sightseeing as well. We visited many beaches, toured an orphanage, explored a water treatment facility, worked at an animal shelter, conducted a college fair for local high school students and climbed to the top of Mt. Fogo – an active volcano! Overall, this experience changed my life and I will never forget the memories and friendships I made in Cape Verde, Africa!

-Cadet Katherine Potter

During my training period at Junior Cadet Leadership Course (JCLC), other cadets and myself acted as the Senior cadets, who as mentors to a large group of Chicago JROTC cadets. The senior cadets broke up into buddy teams and were assigned to various activities or stations. Each station consisted of different tasks or skills to learn. Some of the fun and interesting activities we were able to partake in while at St. John’s included running through a Leader’s Reaction Course (LRC), Land Navigation, Rappelling, Water Survival Training and Recondo. In Recondo you were able to build and cross a one rope bridge. Once the rope was suspended across a river and you and a team then had to hook yourself up to the rope and cross the rope using only a harness and a carabiner. In water survival cadets had to build a working raft and test it by paddling out to the middle of a pond and back without it breaking apart or capsizing. LRC was filled with various team-building exercises that really got cadets thinking and communicating effectively to successfully accomplish the mission. And, for many, I think the highlight of JCLC was the rappel tower and conquering their fears. At the rappel tower cadets got to rappel twice, first learning on the 20ft wall and then getting a final run on the big wall which stood 55ft tall. It was an incredible experience for anyone who was able to attend and participate in all the great activities.

-Brandon Squires


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