The cadets of Tech’s ROTC Golden Eagle Battalion recently participated in the annual spring Joint Forces Training Exercise (JFTX) alongside cadets from MTSU, UT-Martin and Vanderbilt University at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky.
After arriving in Greenville on Thursday, March 20, Tech cadets conducted a daylight land navigation course in conjunction with cadets from other participating schools. This course included rocky, muddy, uneven terrain as well as thick brush and tree coverage. Cadets were tasked with finding points located on the training course using nothing more than a compass, protractor and map.
“The terrain was terrible,” said Emanuel Martinez, a junior Tech ROTC cadet. “If I wasn’t stepping into a hole, I was tripping into a briar patch, but the training gained from having to navigate through and around the obstacles was well worth it.”
After the day land navigation training, cadets took part in a night land navigation course which, much like the day training, required cadets to find points spread out across the terrain of Wendell Ford using all of the previously mentioned gear with the addition of a red lens flashlight.
“It was pretty tough stumbling around in the middle of the woods at night alone, but it definitely gave me a lot more confidence in my own ability to navigate effectively,” said Josh Sholly, a junior Tech ROTC cadet. “It really makes you become more comfortable with trusting your land navigation skills, seeing as how when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, that’s all you really have.”
The following day, Squad Tactical Exercise lanes (STX) began.
These training lanes placed an MSIII Cadet, or junior-level cadet, in a leadership position in charge of a squad of roughly 10 fellow cadets. The squad must then complete a mission given by the instructors appointed over them.
These missions ranged from ambushes and reconnaissance to attacks and movements to contact. These missions tested the cadets’ ability to lead, follow and think on their feet, as well as their individual knowledge of military tactics.
Samuel Dixon, a contracted Tech cadet, said the STX lanes were his favorite part of the training.
“I really liked the outstanding realism of the lanes due to the variables such as the seniors playing the part of the enemy, as well as the way the missions would change on the fly,” Dixon said.
On Saturday, all participating cadets took part in patrolling lanes. These training exercises, much like the STX lanes, placed cadets in charge of an element needed to accomplish a mission, but, instead of a small squad, this time a full sized platoon consisting of three squads was brought into the picture.
“The platoon lanes were definitely my favorite events of the whole FTX,” said Mitchell Powell, an MSIII Tech cadet. “It was awesome seeing how the cadets from the different schools interacted and worked together to accomplish a goal.”
On the final day of the JFTX, all schools, with the exception of UT-Martin, participated in a confidence building obstacle course.
The course consisted of multiple obstacles, including a rope climb, low crawl pit, and an inverted wall climb.
The rope climb called for cadets to climb a 15-foot rope only to dismount at the top, step across evenly space beams, climb an additional 15-foot and then climb down to the ground via a rope cargo net.
The low crawl pit required cadets to crawl on their stomachs with their faces in the Kentucky dirt underneath hanging ropes meant to represent barbed wire. Prior to, and upon completion, cadets were then asked to perform 15 pushups. This tested the individual physical conditioning of each cadet.
The inverted wall, which was a wall tilted slightly towards the cadets, called for each individual to jump, grab the top of the wall, swing his or her body over to the other side and dismount safely.
After completing the obstacle course, the JFTX came to an end as Tech, MTSU and Vanderbilt cadets said their farewells and parted ways.
“The training was great overall, but I definitely made some good friends, too,” said Kaitlin McDonald, a sophomore cadet. “It’s funny how close you get with the people you train with in such a short time.”
“I can’t wait for next year,” said Dixon. “You can never have too much training.”