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The Rocky Top Battalion (BN) had their field training exercise (FTX) 24 October 2013 to 26 October 2013. Because of circumstances beyond our control, our senior cadets had to pull together resources and cooperate to ensure training success and development of the first, second, and third year cadets. Alpha company (A-Co), comprised of our third year cadets, had their FTX at Fort Loudon. Bravo company (B-Co), comprised of the first and second year cadets remained on campus. Both companies had particular missions and planned the events and training during FTX accordingly; developing our cadets’ leadership skills, strengthening confidence in themselves and their classmates, and learning cooperation to work together as a team.

During the A-Co FTX, 30 cadets stayed at Ft. Loudoun Historical State Park for two and a half days. The third year cadets were responsible for organizing the transportation and supply for the duration of the training event. This allowed them to develop necessary critical-thinking and leadership skills in a practical framework. The 30 cadets started the FTX with a rigorous team building squad competition. The race lasted almost two hours and consisted of a four mile run while carrying a log, sand bags, and a ruck sack of equipment between the 10 man squad. Throughout the race, the squads stopped and conducted several physically demanding stations, including 1,000 meters of exercises such as lunges, low crawls, bear crawls, and tire flips. After their arrival to Ft. Loudon on Thursday, the cadets focused on squad development and prepared for the following days of tactical training. During the next two days, the cadets successfully executed 48 STX (squad tactical exercise) lanes, learning the procedures for a squad attack, recon, ambush, and movement to contact. These STX lanes served to develop their leadership skills under stressful circumstances, and ability to make critical decisions based on an understanding of Army tactical doctrine.  The cadet squad leaders were faced with multiple variables during the training, such as responding to simulated casualties and handling enemy prisoners of war.

During the B-Co FTX, 45 cadets, from the freshman and sophomore class, began training on campus and the surrounding areas in order to prepare for future ROTC events. As the underclassmen, first and second year cadets have few chances to lead squad and platoon sized elements; however, this was the first chance for them to lead their peers at such levels. The first obstacle was a forty-foot rappel tower that required the cadets to work together to overcome heights. On the following day, B-Co rucked four miles to the National Guard Armory in order to receive training on the EST 2000, assembly and disassembly of the M4 rifle, M9 pistol, and M240 medium machine gun, and a walk through of vehicles within the US Army. On the final day, the cadets completed STX lanes on campus before a culminating MOUT test at PanHellenic where the MS I and II class met a serious OPFOR threat. In all, B-Co used the FTX as a test for all the previous labs that had been instructed to them.