Familiar faces, higher rank: a year after LDAC, former Cadets return as lieutenants
July 5, 2012
By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – With their eyes on the goal of commissioning in the Army, Cadets complete nine tests involving rappelling down heights, navigating new territory, trusting their equipment and pushing their bodies to the limit.
After passing the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), select Cadets return to the course as lieutenants. This return trip back allows these former Cadets to gain experience in the field by working with officers.
“We augment the staff we have here with 2nd lieutenants who are products of the system already,” Lt. Col. Derek Reeve, chief of training said. “We don’t have to spend a lot of time with them to teach them how to evaluate or act around Cadets, because they already know.”
The lieutenants understand how LDAC runs and can provide support to those taking the tests for the first time.
“We get to actually interact with Cadets and give them advice from our time here last year,” 2nd Lt. Thomas Sawicki, a deputy at Warrior Forge Tactical Operations Center (TOC) said. “Especially if they’re struggling, we can help because we’ve been there.”
For the first time this year, lieutenants arrived all at the same time rather than in waves throughout LDAC. Certain lieutenants are now assigned different projects, such as putting together PowerPoint slides for briefings or testing equipment, while waiting for their regiments to arrive. There are fewer lieutenants coming to LDAC this year due to staffing cutbacks. This gives lieutenants a chance to learn how to be an officer by working with higher ranks, Reeve said.
“I’m learning how to be professional and what officers do,” 2nd Lt. Shaniqua Walton, who will be a platoon Tactical Officer (TAC) in 14th Regiment, said.
The experienced officers she works with teach her more about her future job as an I.T. specialist, Walton said.
The time lieutenants spend working with experienced officers, non-commissioned officers and contractors also develops the skills needed to lead their own Army platoon as professionals, said Lt. Col. Lance Englet, Warrior Forge Development Chief.
Sawicki also works in the operations center before taking his place as a leader for 14th Regiment.
“I’m now able to see the other side of things. As a Cadet, you see everything running smoothly, but you don’t really know the processes behind this course,” Sawicki said.
By working at LDAC, lieutenants are able to take advantage of the waiting period between commissioning in the Army and heading to their first unit; which can take over a year, Reeve said.
Lieutenants are also subject to taking certain tests they did as Cadets. Every member of the cadre has to pass a physical fitness test at the beginning of their time at LDAC. Lieutenants also verify the concepts behind various phases of training.
“Where we need a group of students to validate one of our courses, we have the lieutenants do that and then the cadre knows what works and what needs to be fixed before the Cadets arrive,” Reeve said.
Lieutenants may also work on training committees where they are in charge of evaluating Cadets as they go through a course. Second Lt. Tela O’Rurke works at the Field Leader’s Reaction Course (FLRC) and briefs Cadets on the course as soon they arrive. After LDAC, she will work in military intelligence, which entails many of the activities she’s doing this summer.
“I’ve never really done public speaking before and now I am doing it a lot. It is great experience for something I’ll be doing every day in military intelligence,” O’Rurke said.
Second Lt. Joshua Rivera is also learning how to work with Cadets from officers at the FLRC while acting as supply officer.
“I returned this year to get more experience as a leader and so far, being here has given me just that,” Rivera said.