ROTC cadets from Black Hills State University, Chadron State College and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology gathered in Rapid City March 22-24 for their culminating Field Training Experience (FTX). The multi-day event held at West Camp Rapid included rifle marksmanship and land navigation exercises.
As the culminating event for all cadets, the three-day Spring FTX brings together leadership skills taught during the academic year and throughout Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps), according to Lt. Col. Elvis Coronado who oversees the Mount Rushmore Battalion, which includes BHSU, CSC and Mines.
“The key takeaway of Spring FTX for cadets is a military-like experience where they are now able to understand and further visualize how to accomplish military tasks,” said Coronado. “From this they have now developed a confidence in themselves that will allow them success during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky.”
FTX started on a Friday with basic Rifle Marksmanship to prepare for Summer Training where cadets must shoot accurately to get qualified on their weapon system, a requirement which continues in the Armed Services.
Cadet Tate Jackson from BHSU shot a perfect 40/40.
“ROTC has given me a lot of confidence. I’ve always wanted to be in the Army and was interested in military history. The tactics and techniques of military leaders made me want to become an officer,” said Jackson, who is a junior at BHSU and will attend training this summer.
Following Rifle Marksmanship, the cadets moved into Land Navigation. The students were given military grid points to plot with only a compass, protractor and map. Exercises were conducted in daylight and in darkness without flashlights.
The BHSU, CSC and Mines students then moved into Combined Operations Orders followed by Patrol Base. Cadets were given a possible enemy situation in teams of three to five people. They created a plan based on the weapons used and enemy activity. While in Patrol Base, the students took turns on security watch throughout the night.
Cadet Alexia Hodgson from SD Mines said, “The key takeaway from the FTX was learning to motivate peers in stressful situations. Since we don’t meet often with our sister campuses you need to quickly learn other’s thought processes and capabilities to achieve mission success.”
Capt. Jeremy DeLoach of BHSU said FTX prepares the students for Summer Training, which can affect their military careers.
“Each year 6,000 cadets go to Summer Training, and how well they do determines their military branch, active duty status and job. While at FTX in Rapid City, the senior cadets and cadre [leadership] evaluate the underclassmen on the Army’s Leadership Requirements Model: lead, develop, achieve and character, presence and intellect,” said DeLoach.
Capt. Scot Mullis of CSC said students should look into joining ROTC to set themselves up for success in the future.
“The ROTC scholarships do more than take care of tuition, they also provide the cadet with a living stipend and books which make it easier to focus on classes,” said Mullis.
Cadet Mitchell Parish, a student at CSC, said “I knew about the scholarships and the Army Career that would follow ROTC. I was surprised with the amount of opportunities that ROTC provided such as internships, Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CULP) where we can travel abroad and train with our allied nations, and specialized schools.”
Mullis continued, “All of these opportunities give the Army a well-rounded officer to lead soldiers for their career, but for the cadet, it provides a lifetime of experiences.”
Cadets from each school who will commission in May following graduation include:
- Connor Besse, Littleton, Colo., CSC
- Jared Kovall-Scarlett, Rapid City, BHSU
- David Oerlline, Rapid City, BHSU
- Tristan Walker, San Diego, Calif., SD Mines
For more information on ROTC, contact:
BHSU: Cpt. Jeremy DeLoach, Jeremy.Deloach@BHSU.edu
CSC: Cpt. Scot Mullis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mines: Lt. Col. Elvis Coronado, Elvis.Coronado@sdsmt.edu
About Military Science/Army ROTC
Each higher education institution of the Mount Rushmore Battalion (Black Hills State University, Chadron State College and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology) provides the same benefits to ROTC students which include tuition, a living stipend and books. Free room scholarships and reduced housing rates are also offered at each institution.
ROTC programs are open to both men and women. Military science and leadership (MSL) courses complement any course of study, providing leadership training unavailable anywhere else on campus. Participation in the ROTC Basic Course incurs no military obligation and may be used towards credit for degree completion for all majors on campus.
The Advanced Course consists of the last four semesters of the ROTC program and is offered to students possessing the potential to become Army officers and who desire to serve as commissioned officers and lead U.S. Army soldiers in the Active Army, U.S. Army Reserve or the Army National Guard. The objective of the advanced course is to select, train and prepare students for military service.