ROTC training intensifies as cadets prepare for field training exercises

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    Intensity is increasing for both TCU Air Force and Army ROTC as cadets prepare for field training exercises (FTX) in April.

    “The pace really picks up this semester,” said Capt. Zach Grimes, executive officer for TCU Army ROTC.

    Grimes said the training will be more physically taxing and will test cadets’ mental reactions.

    The spring FTX prepares certain cadets for leadership programs they must complete to graduate as commissioned officers. Juniors in Army ROTC must complete the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) the summer before their senior year, Grimes said.

    Sophomores in Air Force ROTC are required to go through a similar leadership training program called Field Training, or FTX, the summer before their junior year, said Tyler Hoff, an Air Force ROTC cadet. Hoff is in charge of training the sophomores for that course this year.

    Grimes said Army ROTC’s FTX is designed to train cadets to handle situations that they would face in the field.

    Each Army ROTC junior will command his or her own platoon during spring FTX, Grimes said. The cadets will lead their platoons through situations like responding to ambushes, destroying bunkers and clearing buildings.

    “It’s a chance for the cadets to practice what they’ve been taught,” Grimes said.

    Senior James Liu, the cadet battalion commander for Army ROTC, said the exercise is an opportunity to evaluate how cadets react in pressure-filled situations. He said LDAC is going to test their ability to make choices in different scenarios.

    “That’s what they’re looking for,” he said. “Can you handle stress? Can you make those critical decisions when it matters?”

    Stephanie Aviles, a junior who will attend LDAC this summer, said the transition from being a sophomore to a junior in ROTC “slaps you in the face,” and that the increase in intensity is definitely an adjustment.

    “By the time you reach the second semester, we’re kind of in the swing of things, and we’re kind of getting used to it,” Aviles said.

    Preston Green, a sophomore Air Force ROTC cadet, said the semester before Field Training is “probably the toughest” in terms of preparation and time commitment.

    He also said the FTX is good preparation for what he and other cadets will experience this summer.

    “It’s really realistic,” Green said. “In like a 24-hour setting, you kind of get all that the Field Training is going to put on you, but just in a shorter amount of time.”

    Hoff said he and Derrick Johnson, the other flight trainer for the sophomore cadets, are “ramping up the intensity” this spring.

    Hoff, a senior Spanish major, went through Field Training in 2013. He said going through that experience helped him know how to prepare the younger cadets for it.

    “It’s all about how an individual grows into a leadership role,” Hoff said, “and then how they react to adversity thrown at them.”