Land Navigation

One of the critical skills you will learn in Army ROTC is land navigation/map reading. As a junior leader in the Army you will be expected to get your soldiers to the fight, and find your soldiers. As a signal company commander in Germany in the early 90’s I would often have my company spread over hundreds of square kilometers. My company consisted of small teams of communications soldiers who would deploy to the high ground around central Germany to install a communications network. During these field problems my days were usually spent traveling to the remote sites to check on my soldiers and solve problems, or traveling to higher headquarter’s field sites to attend meetings. Being able to plot where my sites were on a map and navigate to those sites was critical to my job.

In the GKB we spend a lot of time on teaching land navigation and map reading. I have already taught two mapreading classes to the freshman class. We have covered map basics (colors on a map, terrain features, and marginal information on the map sheet). We also covered how to plot a grid coordinate. We use a Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) to identify a point on the ground with a two letter and four, six, or eight digit coordinate, much like a latitude/longitude. We have also covered how to plot a direction and a distance on a map from a grid coordinate, and also how to measure distance on a map. The lab of land nav week involved pace and compass work in the woods on campus. Cadets were given a series of directions and distances that they were required to travel and identify a sign with a number/letter combination at each juncture in the course.
We even incorporate land nav into our PT during our land nav week. The Friday of land nav week each squad gets a rough map of the town of Potsdam with a bunch of points plotted. They need to run to as many as they can in the allotted time and identify the letter/number combination at the locations. Further points are worth more, and the squad that gets the best score has bragging rights.

Finally the cadets spent a day at our local training area (Stone Valley) where they practice putting it all together during the daytime, and at night.

This training replicates the day and night land navigation test they will have to pass at Warrior Forge after their junior year. Freshmen do the training in groups with the help of an experienced Senior Cadet to learn the “tricks of the trades” before being sent out in pairs or alone later in the semester.  Having the trainng areas and the progressive system of training ensures that every graduate of the Golden Knight Battalion has a solid foundation of navigations skills.


Is this helping

Just a quick post to try to get some feedback about this blog. I’ve been writing the blog for almost two years now and I’d like to hear from you about the usefulness of the information I have compiled. What would you like to see more of? What info is helpful? What information is not? Let me know. Leave a comment below.

Airborne Congratulations

I recently received this email from one of our alumni congratulating our cadet Airborne school graduates from this summer.  One of the unique things about the Army is our links to our  past, and the traditions that remind us about those who have gone before us. Whether it is the history of your ROTC Battalion, or the storied history of your current unit, being part of something bigger than yourself is what makes the Army a special place.

Cadet's Olszewski, Macci, and Strait hanging out at Airborne school

Scott –

As the new school year begins, please pass along my congratulations to Cadets Austin, Strait, Olszewski, and Macci from the 3rd Clarkson cadet to attend jump school. (August 1976).

Mark Rosenthal
class of 78

(Ask LTC Hassett about LZ Ziplock)

Guess I’ll ask LTC Hassett about LZ Ziplock next time I see him.

PFT or PRT, that is the question!

Cadet Command asks all Army ROTC scholarship applicants to take a Presidential Fitness test (PFT). Bottom line, end of statement, no more follows. In the past I had a different outlook on this requirement, and a couple years ago I was giving different advice with regards to this requirement. I have come to realize that taking the PFT is the way to go. My advice is counter to what many other school are advocating. Here is what I recommend and why. Take the PFT, not the Army Phsical Fitness Test (APFT), and don’t submit your Cadet Fitness Assessment (CFA) score in leau of the PFT.
This is what the letter Cadet Command will send you says:

1. You must complete a Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Please go to the website for information on how this test is conducted and to retrieve the score card. A Physical Education Teacher, any athletic coach,
or any JROTC instructor may administer this test. We only request the student be tested in the events for curl-ups, push-ups, and the 1 mile run. You can get a printable scorecard at Under the ROTC Scholarship section, click on “ROTC Physical Assessment Scorecard”.

One of the 10K races at Bagram in 2003

Many schools will ask you to take the APFT for them when you conduct your interview. Eventually you will have to take the APFT to validate your scholarship.In the past I recommended that you take the APFT instead of the PFT, but I have come to realize that wasn’t the best advice. A couple things to think about regarding the PFT vs. the APFT:

The PFT is easier and your scores will be higher.
An APFT score may be confused with your PFT score by the board members. They may be wondering why it took you 14 minutes to run 1 mile, when you actually ran two miles.
Cadet Command asks you to take a PFT.

If you choose to send in a CFA score, again the CFA involves more events and may be slightly harder. The other thing sending in a CFA does is indicate that Army ROTC is your backup plan. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but if I have two applicants and I have do decide which one gets the scholarship, and all things are equal except one wants to come to my school, and one really wants to be at West Point who do you think I’m going to offer the scholarship to?

Cadets take an APFT multiple times each semester. You’ll get your chance to take the APFT

Yesterday I had an applicant call to ask me about the test he took at a different school. They had him take a full APFT, but they only sent in the scores for the first minute of each event. Let’s think about that for a second. First off the sit up is different from the curl up, which is the required exercise for the PFT. Second of all, If I told you that I was going to score your ability to perform push ups and sit ups for one minute and then run one mile, but I was also going to have you do an additioal minute of each exercise before you did the next one would that make it a little harder and reduce your scores? You bet it would.

Why am I telling you this. I am suggesting to you that you follow the instructions and get a gym teacher or coach to give you a PFT. If you want an ROTC program to give you the test ask them to give you the PFT. IF they tell you they want you to take an APFT I would tell them you’d be happy to, but you’ll get your gym teacher or coach to submit your PFT scores as required. And feel free to refer the ROO to this post if she/he has questions. I’m not the expert, but I think this one is a no brainer.