CULP trip 2014 – Thailand – Cadet Forshey

For CULP 2014, I was deployed to the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in Thailand from 24 May to 17 June.  My team of 13 cadets, along with our team leader, taught groups of Thai cadets from first years to four years.  All of the cadets had taken English for several years and needed a certain understanding of the language to get into the academy, but their conversational English skills were lacking because they rarely conversed in English outside of English class.   After classes we were able to play sports with the cadets and we ate meals with them.  We also had the opportunity to teach enlisted soldiers, who had the opportunity to become officers, some drill and ceremony, the way we do.

The enlisted soldiers and our team after a session of D and C.

The enlisted soldiers and our team after a session of D and C.

It was awesome to learn the differences in things such as facing movements and especially how they march at formal occasions.

One of the most exciting things I got to experience was doing their PT test with them.  Their run is a five kilometer run around their academy grounds which finishes in front of the statue of King Chulachomklao.  They run their test as units, and if someone in their unit does not finish in 27:00 minutes, the entire unit fails.  Oh, and did I mention they test is at 1500 (roughly 95ºF with no wind) while they are wearing their ‘ACU’ pants and combat boots? It was amazing to be a part of this experience. They all work together to push and encourage each other to complete this run.

We ate every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, with our cadets from second battalion, under second company's barracks.

We ate every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, with our cadets from second battalion, under second company’s barracks.

On weekends, we went on excursions with our Thai cadets.  The first weekend we went to Kanchanaburi, in the west of Thailand.  We went to an elephant park, Erawan waterfalls national park, the bridge over the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.  The elephant park and the Tiger temple were awesome, because I had never been so close, or even touched animals so big.

Forshey 3

Erawan National park, we hiked to the seventh and final tier of the falls and explored.

The next weekend we went to Ayutthaya, which is the old capital of Thailand.  We went to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace.  This palace is a ‘vacation’ palace of the King and Queen.  It was amazing to see how many images of the King and Queen were all over the cities and villages.  The peoples’ respect for their King and Queen was remarkable.  The following day we went to a market in an old temple square and finished the day by going to the ‘Monkey Temple’.   The monkey temple was a huge abandoned temple because the monkeys had essentially taken over.  The entire city had monkeys crawling all over it.

At the Monkey Temple with Thailand team 3 and our fellow Thai counterparts.

At the Monkey Temple with Thailand team 3 and our fellow Thai counterparts.

During this trip I learned how different other cultures were because I had never been outside of the United States and my perception of other cultures was close-minded.  I went into the experience with an open mind and I learned a lot about Thailand, not only the way the military operates, but also how different traditions are celebrated among the civilians as well.

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2013 deadline approaches

With a little more than a month before the final deadline of the 2012-2013 Army ROTC high school scholarship process here is what you need to know.

If you have already been boarded in the first or second board and haven’t received an offer hold tight.  You have one more chance before you have to swing fire to plan B.  Keep checking your status online, don’t worry about the medical status yet, and keep positive.  If you don’t get an offer and you still want to be an Army Officer there are plenty of other ways to get there.

If you haven’t completed your file and are not board ready get busy.  Again check your online status.  If you have questions or need help call a ROO at an ROTC Battalion.

I’ll say it again…you need 4 things to be board ready in this process

Transcripts

SAT/ACT scores

Presidential Fitness Test (PFT)

Interview with a PMS

Some of these things involve other people, so waiting until the last minute could be problematic.

You transcripts need to be submitted by your Guidance Office.  Do they have the capability to scan and email?  If not, do you have a plan to verify that the fax was received?  If they plan to mail them, will they get there in time?

You can take a screen shot of your SAT/ACT scores and email them to your processor.  Are you assuming because you listed Cadet Command as a recipient of your scores that they have them (don’t)?  Are you assuming because those scores are listed on your transcripts that they have them (don’t).  If your online status still says they haven’t received your test grades send them again via email.  You also might want to call a ROO and see if she/he can tell you what scores are posted in the system to make sure your best scores are in there.

You’ll need a coach or gym teacher to do the PFT.  It will take you 30 minutes at most to complete this test.  Are you planning on just submitting your Academy Fitness Test (CFA)(don’t)?

For the interview you will have to schedule a visit to an ROTC Battalion and fit into a PMS’s schedule.  These are busy men and women.  They are usually thrilled to meet with prospects, but that is not their primary job.  Are you planning to interview at your top school, or the nearest?  If it’s a big school the PMS is probably busier than at a small school, keep that in mind.

So, time is running out…If you haven’t completed your file get busy!!!

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 http://www.goarmy.com/ROTC 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 http://www.rotc.usaac.army.mil/. 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.

Quick Summer Update

We are only a short ways into the Summer, but already good things are happening for the GKB. All of our school slots were front loaded, which means we have already had 4 cadets graduate from Airborne school (Cadets Austin, Strait, Olszewski, and Macci), and one cadet earn his Air Assault wings (Cadet Hallam).
Congrats to the GKBs latest Airborne school grads
Captain McCarthy is already at LDAC for his duty, along with many of our brand new Lieutenants. The first wave of LDACians deployed to Atropia earlier this week, and the second wave is moving now. Cadet Edgette and Coveleski were the first in the chute, and are already getting their picture taken for the LDAC flikr page.Cadet Edgette at LDAC

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GKBERS!!!

GKB at LDAC

Just a quick update about GKB cadets at LDAC…All the cadets are on the ground, and 6 cadets have completed camp.  First off I would like to congratulate the Army’s newest LT, 2LT Brian Bierwirth, who was an end of camp commissionee. With two cadets yet to test we have a 262 APFT average, and a 94 land nav average (out of 100).  The land nav average is phenomenal.  Cadets Wheeler, Brewer, and Lucas all maxed the land nav, and Cadets Vantine and McTarnaghan scored a 99.  In the PT world Cadet Fahsel scored a 309 on the APFT and was the top female in her regiment…Well Done!!!   6 cadets have overall assessments in the books, with 5 overall “S” and one overall “E”.  The overall “E” was given to Cadet Ables.  We have a clean slate so far, no one has failed any training event, and I hope I didn’t just jinx the last two cadets.  I don’t think that will happen, and I want to congratulate you all on the job you’ve done so far, keep up the good work.  We are looking forward to hearing the stories, and having you pass on the lessons learned to the rest of the Battalion.

“FROM THE FRONT”

Photos from http://www.flickr.com/photos/warriorforge/

The dreaded PT test

PT test

 The PT test gives cadets and applicants much anxiety, and results in many questions so I thought I’d talk about the PT test today.  As an applicant you have the option of taking the Presidential Fitness Test (PFT) or the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).  I haven’t determined if there is an advantage or disadvantage to taking either one.  The PFT is the easier of the two (1 minute of pushups and curl ups, and a one mile run vs. 2 minutes of pushups and full sit ups, and a 2 mile run), but the PFT is not a test you will ever take again.  You need to pass the APFT to entry level standards to validate your scholarship, and pass the PT test to Army standards to  retain your scholarship, and eventually stay in the Army.  The APFT is the test soldiers take twice a year, every year.  In my mind, if I was evaluating applicants a decent APFT score would be more meaningful than a PFT score.  When applicants come to interview with the Golden Knight Battalion I usually ask them to take an APFT as part of the interview. [NOTE: I have changed my thinking on the subject of PFT vs. APFTread the post] I’m not looking for a pass or fail, just a relative level of fitness.

 So let’s talk a little bit about the standards.  The pushup is a fairly well understood exercise, but we are looking for it to be done in a particular way.  The hands should be approximately shoulder width apart, and the body should be in a relatively straight line from feet to shoulders.  When the exercise is done right the upper body is lowered until the upper arm is parallel to the ground, and then the upper body is raised until the arms are locked out.  Resting is authorized, but arms and feet must remain in contact with the ground.

 The sit up is done with the legs bent at a 90 degree angle, and the hands clasped behind the head.  Correct execution is when the body is raised until the base of the neck is above the base of the spine, and then the body is lowered down until the shoulder blades touch the ground.  Resting is only authorized in the up position, and you cannot bounce your butt to give you momentum.

 The two mile run is just that…running two miles.  If you are preparing for a PT test nothing prepares you better for this event than running 2 miles.  Don’t tell me you run 20 minutes on the treadmill or bike 10 miles each day and should have no problems with the run.  Nothing replaces getting out and running!

 What is a good score?  Cadets are required to pass with 60 points on each event. For a typical male freshman that means 42 pushups, 53 situps, and 2 miles in 15:54.  For a Female its 19 pushups, 53 situps, and 2 miles in 18:54.  This should not be that hard.  A new cadet, or basic trainee is required to score at least 50 points on each event.  As age goes up scoring changes, and as a future Army Officer minimums should not be the concern.  You should be tracking what it takes to max the test.

 Here are a few websites that will help you prepare for the Physical Requirements of ROTC. 

 http://www.apft-standards.com/index.html

http://www.hooah4health.com/4You/apft.htm

http://www.ucfrotc.com/cadets/apft-info.html