Upon waking up to the shout of the company first sergeant saying we had 2 minutes to get up, and squared away. Much like the previous day Steve Strait and I were ready in time, but today only Steve was charitable enough to help other people get their own rucks squared away. I settled for kicking the nearest squad member telling him to wake up. Much like any morning at Clarkson, we ruck marched a mile down the road to where the busses would be picking us up, got in formation and then, by squad, fell out to get our breakfast. The most entertaining part of the morning was that most of the cadets were starting to look like grizzly Adams as they hadn’t been able to shave in the last two days. After briefly eating the busses showed up and we put our rucks in the bottom of the bus and headed onto the nice warm bus (it’s amazing how ROTC can make one appreciate the little things in life so much more, such as regular meals, heat, and warm beds (although I have to say the triple sleeping bag kept me warm and toasty all night)). The bus brought us to 7-springs where we would be spending the entire day conducting STX lanes.Of the things that really matter in ROTC, this is probably the most significant. STX (squad tactical exercises) is where you are given a situation such as “Move to Contact” or “Knock out a Bunker” where the squad leader is evaluated based on his ability to come up with a plan of attack, explain that plan, implement that plan, and deal with variables that come into play when executing the mission. If this wasn’t enough pressure, the squad leader has to motivate the squad to give 100% throughout the day. Our first mission was to be “Sappa forces” (the enemy) coming down the road. Our squad leader charged me with primary compass (I kept us in the proper direction) and primary Aid and Litter (If we sustained friendly casualties I had to address them and treat them). Unfortunately though even though we ran thru the situation many times and possible situations that might happen, when we headed out, our path was along a hill so even though I would give a direction, when we went in the direction, we went to the left due to the “natural line of drift” so higher (the MS IV and the Major that were with us) told us to go 100 meters in the upwards hill direction. This left a bad taste in the mouth of our squad leader when it came to me so basically for the rest of the day they had me do trivial and unimportant tasks where whatever I did there was sure to be at least 2 other people doing that job so it wasn’t done wrong. The rest of the day went much like this with varied missions such as “Two people have been spotted at this location (usually a known hot spot) you must find out who they are and what their intentions are. I was slowly gaining the respect back from my superior MS III’s as mission to mission I didn’t mess anything else up, and I was tasked with more and more leading roles. After each lane (2 hours a piece) we were given a few minutes to gather ourselves, eat something to keep our strength up, and just all around get our head in the game. On the last lane of the day, I was 2nd in command of Bravo team (if bravo team leader sustained a casualty I would lead Bravo). The mission was attack on a bunker and from what we heard that people at this lane (actual army reserve soldiers) were lighting people up all day. With the usual Army Bravado we claimed to be up to the task. After getting the order, discussing what each person’s role was going to be, and getting in place, it was time to attack. Right from the get go sh!t hit the fan when our alpha team who had flanked around, captured an enemy who detonated an IED (like a paintball bomb) leaving ½ of them on the ground “simulated” dead. Sustaining a staggering amount of fire from the bunker, bravo team wasn’t fairing much better. Almost as soon as the fire had begun, our squad leader was hit by a stray paintball and we weren’t even close to the objective. Utilizing IMT (Individual Movement Techniques) I low crawled under some fallen tree’s breaking branches in my path, to get on line with an adjacent fallen tree to the bunker. I had not realized that the squad leader had been hit until then and therefore struggled to get the remaining members of bravo team on line with me to implement a technique of suppressing fire to engage and suppress the enemy. Unfortunately in the totally chaos most of my bravo team was obliterated leaving only me, and I was cut off from visual contact of Alpha team (where the squad leader was) so I made the decision to keep with the original plan of bravo team laying down fire while alpha took the bunker. In the process of “Laying down the scunion” (military term for putting rounds down range) I heard a cry from my squad leader “BRAVO TEAM ASSAULT THRU.” Urging Bravo team (who I did not realize consisted just of me at the time) to assault the bunker I saw thru my fogged up mask that no one was moving. I then took a deep breath stood up and put as many rounds on the bunker as I could while rapidly moving forward. It almost worked but 5 feet from the bunker the superior force in the heavily fortified bunker overwhelmed me and I was shot. This was the best lane of the day by far even though it was the only one we had not completed the mission. I found out that I had hit one of the soldiers in the bunker and it was the first time they had sustained a casualty, which was a personal success. I have to tip my hat off to the squad leader because even though it didn’t exactly work, the flank that he executed with alpha company had the bunker fighting a war on two fronts which allowed suppressing fire to be more effective and almost resulted in victory.
This being our last lane of the day we headed back to our formation, dropped off the paintball weapons and other equipment, and then in formation, headed back to the busses. When we got back to Old Snell that night, before we could go inside and get to bed, we formed up outside and were taught by the MS IV’s about how, where, and when to set up a patrol base. Following this we ate and retired back to our rooms. We were tasked as a squad to clean up part of Old Snell in preparation for the following day where we would be departing back to our respective schools. I was also assigned along with Strait, to “fire watch” which is basically a hall patrol for a certain time in the night (only for about 15 minutes). The hardest part of those evenings’ activities was not falling asleep, which sounds ridiculous that they wouldn’t let you go to sleep, but it’s about comradery (if he can’t go to sleep because he has to work, then why are you so special that you can? Is he not just as exhausted?). I get it and respect it, but it was very difficult especially Saturday night running on 3 hours of sleep from the previous night. Finally at 2200 H we were told lights out, something I didn’t need to hear twice.
Filed under: Army ROTC Information Tagged: | Army, Army ROTC, Cadet, cadet command, Clarkson Army ROTC, FTX, GKB, Golden Knight Battalion, leadership dimensions, Reserve Officers Training Corp, STX lanes