By the time the weekend rolls around, most students are breathing a deep sigh of relief. Some are hitting the books to catch up on homework. Others are going to parties or socializing with friends.
But the one thing they're probably not doing is the military field exercises 130 military science students participated in last weekend.
The current crop of Reserve Officer Training Corps set aside their text books and day planners to spend two days at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for the annual fall Field Training Exercise.
For most of the ROTC students, it was a move by the unit to expose them to what the Army is all about. On the other hand, for the juniors (MS-III's), it was their first chance to begin preparations for next summer's six-week advance camp at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Grenade Assault Course
The GAC winds like a snake over 200 meters of Huachuca terrain. The obstacle course contains walls the cadets must jump over, several grenade throwing stations with targets of varying dimensions, navigating around ü or through ü concertina wire entanglements and barbed wire obstacles to be crawled under.
Senior cadets, or cadet cadre, guided the two platoons of freshmen and sophomores at the GAC through the course, gauging the students' effectiveness at throwing the grenades and evaluating their determination in completing the course.
There is no set time requirement for the cadets, although one cadre member told the afternoon group that a student ran the course in two minutes flat.
The course reveals to the students how hard they are required to work in the Army, says geography senior Tony Bailey.
On the average, Bailey says it only takes a few minutes to run the course, but usually by the time students reach the finish line, they're "smoked."
"If there's time they'll let you do it again," Bailey says. "But, there's not many volunteers for a second time around."
Leadership Reaction Course
Another obstacle course confined within a tightly gated compound, the LRC is used to gauge the reactions of MS-III cadet teams. The object of the course is to come up with a plan to cross an obstacle (usually water) using only those materials issued to the team.
"Nothing they (the cadet cadre) give you will complete the task in and of itself," says creative writing senior and cadre member Stacy Bartek.
The teams would be issued materials such as six-foot boards and several pieces of rope to cross an eight-foot stretch of water between two pylons. Or, cadets would be given a 10-foot ladder and ordered to cross a 12-foot pond.
Bartek says the purpose behind the LRC is to evaluate each cadet's leadership skills.
"In some cases," Bartek says, "the mission isn't even accomplishable. It's just a matter of coming up with a plan."
"It's interesting," Bailey says. "You see the creativity shine through."
"And you're evaluated on that," Bartek says.
Larry Hataway, a chemical engineering junior who has been in the UA program for the past three years, says everyone depends on each other during training.
"It's the best way to teach leadership skills," he says.
Bartek says the more they can instill that into them here the better they can succeed at camp next summer.
"It teaches them to be a little more vocal," he says.
The rappel tower is a two-faced wooden structure with a 40-foot wall on one side and a 30-foot wall on the other. Experienced cadets rappelled off the taller wall while the beginners were subjected to the shorter of the two jumps.
Run by the ROTC's own Cadet Ranger Battalion, the students are briefed and given a demonstration involving the do's and don'ts of the rappel tower. Any infraction of the tower's rules are dealt with accordingly at an old, wooden, telephone pole, fondly known as the "Log of Woe," where cadets drop and give the cadre 10 push-ups.
One cadet ranger commented to the afternoon platoon that the morning group had been "pushing Arizona all day." The key here, he told them, was to pay attention at all times.
Attention to detail is important, he says, and when one isn't paying attention then they're paying the cadre with push-ups.
James Hamilton, computer science freshman, says he went to the "Log of Woe" because he couldn't remember the names of the four Beverly Hillbillies. (They are, incidentally, Jethro, Uncle Jed, Ellie Mae and Granny.)
The purpose of asking the cadets trivia questions, Bailey says, is to get them to pay closer attention. The cadre doesn't need a student on top of the tower with their mind in the clouds, he says.
Hamilton says the rappel tower was the only reason why he was there. Despite the physical demands placed upon him, he says it's something different to get out and do.
"It's not like it's something you do everyday," he says.
Although the training was arranged and conducted by the senior cadet cadre and monitored extensively by the regular active duty instructors, the exercises exposed students to the rigorous lifestyle members will experience if they decide to "contract" with the U.S. Army.
Passing the course
Captain Rene Olivari, the junior class military science instructor, knows exactly what kind of commitment is required when making that decision. He made it himself. A 1985 graduate of the University of Florida's Army ROTC program, Olivari spent most of his time as an artillery officer.
But he spent last weekend watching over his MS-III cadets, making sure they learned what the cadre had to teach.
"They have to approach this as though it were a class," Olivari says. "But, it's more than a class; it's all a part of the end goal. When they graduate they want to become second lieutenants."
Olivari says field training is an added benefit of the military science program, and it helps the juniors prepare for next summer. He says, though, this is all part of passing the course, and if they don't graduate, they don't get their commission.
"It takes a lot of sacrifice on their part," Olivari says. "There's a lot of things they give up. This isn't easy."
Olivari says the cadets are watched over and monitored and that these exercises are meant to further advance team building skills. He says he has cadets carrying 16 to 20 credit hours, with 15 units being the normal course load before adding in the ROTC units.
The reason for the heavy academic load, Olivari says, is that most of the cadets want to finish in four years.
"If they're able to do it, they come out ahead," he says.
"I felt the army had a lot to offer," East Asian studies junior Terry Butcher says. He was a Korean linguist with the U.S. Marines on Okinawa when he got the chance to train with members of an army airborne outfit.
He hopes to be commissioned as an infantry officer, he says. At the moment, Bucher says he's enrolled in 17 credit hours, has a part-time job, is married and has a four-year-old. He says he receives a lot of support from his wife who wants this for him as much as he does.
Michael Grifka, linguistics senior and MS-II, says he is going on to graduate school instead. He says he underwent 11 weeks of basic training in the Israeli army and wanted to check out the ROTC program.
"I wanted to see the quality of instruction," he says.
Grifka says the program was less stressful, mostly because of the civilian student population participating in the training. He says it was definitely worth taking the weekend off to go out to Huachuca.
Lt. Col. Leigh Creighton, the battalion commander, says that even though the seniors conducted the training and the juniors participated, the freshmen and sophomores enrolled in the ROTC classes benefited.
"The freshmen and sophomores are getting exposure to what we do in the army," he says.
Olivari says the MS-III's will grow a lot this year.
"You see them at the beginning of the year and come May, you can't believe the change in them," Olivari says.
"When they go (to camp) they're ready," he says.
Creighton says, "The hardest part of training is that you can't do it for them. You have to watch them struggle through it."
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