The legend of the LDAC ants

Justin Trujillo a member of the 2011 Public Affaris office stands next to one of the legendary Ant hills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. This ant hill topped out just under Five feet tall and Six feet wide. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

The forest floor of Joint Base Lewis-McChord is alive, alive with ants. Cadets see for themselves the true power of nature as they maneuver around the mini highways of moving sticks and pine needles during their base-wide training. The Squad Situational Training exercises (SSTX) and patrol (PSTX) lanes are where Cadets get an up-close encounter with the six-legged legends of the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

If Cadets hadn’t been briefed on the enormous ant hills prevalent in the tactics training area, they might have been concerned.

All Cadets are briefed before they conduct a mission about the possible environmental hazards, and the ants are one of them, said Maj. John Brauneis, the tactics safety Officer. Read more of this post

Cadets explore Army-life after LDAC

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Following the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) a world of opportunities within the Army opens up to Cadets.

At Branch Orientation, Cadets visit large Army tents set up in the middle of the regimental areas, rotating every 45 minutes at the sound of an air horn to explore four of their top branch choices. They listen to speakers, watch videos and read about what may lie ahead of them in the next few months should they be chosen for active duty.

Cadets of 5th and 6th Regiments learn about the Transportation Corps at Branch Orientation as part of their experience at the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

While many Cadets may not be assigned to their first few choices, it is still important that they learn about multiple branches.

“Not any one is guaranteed,” said Master Sgt. Michael Rosenberger of 12th Regiment. “It’s all about information and how they can set themselves up for success.”

Inside the tents are experienced Soldiers and cadre who are tasked as branch representatives to educate Cadets about specifics of the branch assignments. Staff Sgt. Chris Hall of the 57th Sapper Company, Fort Bragg, North Carolina was flown in three times throughout Warrior Forge to talk about his branch and recruit talent for the Corps of Engineers. Read more of this post

Cadets get hands-on experience during Nurse Summer Training Program

First Lt. Jordan List oversees nursing Cadet Megan King putting in an IV for a patient. U.S. Army photo by Alexandra Kocik

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – While typical Cadets run, jump and work together through LDAC courses, ROTC nursing students put in IVs, give medication and work late-nights in the ER inside Madigan Army Medical Center on the other side of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Many of these interns already completed LDAC or will do so after their time at the hospital.

The 29-day Army Nurse Summer Training Program was once a mandatory activity for all ROTC nursing students, but is now optional and competitively selected. Nursing students apply for their top three choices of Army hospitals to work in. The two most requested locations are Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, which accepts the top 10 applicants, and the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, with room for three interns.

Applicants’ Army Physical Fitness Test scores and grade-point average account for 40 percent of their application score during the review process. Only those with the highest scores in these two areas will be given their top choice.

Read more of this post

The fight against fear

A Cadet crosses the Log Walk at the water confidence course as the rest of their regiment watches. U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Thirty-five feet above the dark lake, a Cadet balances precariously on a 6-inch-wide beam by holding her arms out from her sides. As she steps gingerly down from a small block set in the center of the beam, she stumbles forward, falling to one knee. Her comrades below gasp as she grabs the ladder on the opposite side of the beam to avoid falling further. The Cadet bows her head and makes the sign of a cross before flashing a smile to the cheering crowd below. Slowly she ascends the ladder to the next challenge.

The water confidence course at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) marks the final test before Cadets graduate. Retired 1st Sgt. Jorge Rivera is a member of the cadre overseeing this site, which has one important goal.

“The purpose of this course is to test Cadets’ personal courage and ability to overcome their fear of water, heights or both,” Rivera said. “Two of the activities here must be passed to graduate from LDAC, so a small percentage finds this site stressful because of their fears.

Read more of this post

Marching as one

Cadets of the 9th Regiment complete their 10k foot march. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The sun plays peek-a-boo over the horizon as Cadets gear up at the regimental assembly area for the culminating event of their tactics training, the 10k foot march.

Prepared and ready to go, anxious Cadets get a head start on their 5:30 start time and step off at 5:20 a.m.

Company Tactical Officer, Lt. Col. Stacy Seaworth, who will lead the company of Cadets from beginning to end, directs Alpha Company off the line first.

Though the march is not a timed event, most regiments finish in under two hours, said Mr. Steven Lopez, the tactics committee operations officer in charge of the march.

As Cadets step off the grass, their well-worn boots crush the gravel, the rocks popping and crackling beneath their feet. Read more of this post

Mental fitness as important as physical fitness at confidence course

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Stress is a part of life but in the Army Soldiers are expected to perform to standard in spite of it.

A 12th Regiment Cadet climbs the rope on “The Tough One” as part of the Land Confidence course at Joint Base Lewis McChord. U.S. Army photo by Noelle Wiehe

As Cadets, the most stressful situation they face is the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

By the time Cadets reach the Land Confidence course in their second week, they’ve already completed the Land Navigation test as well as the Army Physical Fitness Test – tell-tale signs that they are prepared enough to complete LDAC. Cadets must shrug off the stress they’ve faced thus far and power through intimidating obstacles to complete the Land Confidence portion of LDAC. Read more of this post

Leading under pressure

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Infiltrating the enemy and obtaining intel are just two skills that Cadets master during tactics training at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

In the days leading up to training, Cadets spend hours learning how to interact with the people of Atropia during their Cultural Awareness training. Atropia is a fictitious country, primarily Spanish speaking, that is meant to resemble culture in the Middle East and Southwest Asian countries.

Seventh Regiment Cadets capture Col. Manuel Dehoya, played by Sgt. Jeff Berger, during patrolling (PTRL) training on Lane 98 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals.

Understanding the kinds of environments they will be introduced to overseas helps Cadets to succeed while operating in those circumstances at LDAC.

The land of Atropia is populated by Atropian civilians as well as the South Atropian People’s Army, SAPA, also known to Cadets as “the bad guys”.

Cadets are taught how to complete their mission and extract the SAPA forces with the least amount of civilian disturbance as possible. This can be hard at times since SAPA forces can lay low and disguise themselves as civilians. Telling friendly civilians apart from enemy forces can at times be almost impossible.
Read more of this post

Breaking down cultural barriers enhances mission-effectiveness

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Cadets of 6th Regiment train at the Cultural Awareness course alongside second lieutenant actors who play the roles of Atropian-natives on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Practical training in the U.S. Army is crucial. The situations within the training may be extreme, but at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), preparedness is one of the most important aspects of Soldier combat-readiness.

“In today’s world, in order to do our mission, we have to understand and be aware of the cultures that we’re going to be working with,” said Lt. Col. Jon Negin, officer in charge of the Cultural Awareness training. “Culture is all around us as we conduct our operations these days.”

Cadets attending LDAC are subjected to a made-up Atropian culture. This culture is meant to resemble, but not mirror, a culture they are likely to encounter in Middle Eastern and Southwest Asian countries. Through several different stations which make up the Cultural Awareness training site, Cadets build confidence in their ability to communicate with foreigners and in their ability to operate as a squad.
Read more of this post

Civilians receive the Cadet treatment at LDAC

Community educators and leaders work together to complete a task at the Field Leader’s Reaction Course. U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – At the Field Leader’s Reaction Course (FLRC), Cadets encourage their squads to work together to cross obstacles. Portions of this course are marked off with red tape, which Cadets must avoid by going over and around using barrels, beams and other objects.

On an overcast day in the middle of a wooded area, a bright pink sweatshirt clashes with the green camouflage of a woman’s Kevlar as she helps several other brightly-dressed woman pick up a heavy wooden board. A grey-haired man stops rolling a barrel to rub the dull ache in his knee before he can continue.

Those in T-shirts and jeans are not the Cadets generally being evaluated on this course; they are leaders and educators from around the country who are given a two-day tour of the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), which Cadets must successfully negotiate before becoming Army officers. By gaining a glimpse into what Cadets go through to succeed in the military, these civilians gain a better understanding of what ROTC does to prepare their students for future leadership roles. These leaders and educators are encouraged to attempt any portion of the training – including the Water Confidence Course, First-Aid training and weapons familiarization.
Read more of this post

Logistics planning vital to Cadet training

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Cadets of 11th Regiment In-Process during the first days of their training while at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The Army consists of less than 1 percent of the United States’ bravest and most dedicated individuals, without whom the Army would not prevail in combat. The vigorous training of the future Officers of the Army would not be possible if not for the strategic planning and organization which goes in to the logistics within the Army’s Officer training courses.

“Nothing happens without logistics,” said Vicky Vital, property liability clerk within the logistics department at Warrior Forge. “Without us, the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) couldn’t happen.”

Cadets must negotiate confidence courses, training facilities and field training exercises at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a part of LDAC in order to become second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Under the logistics committee at LDAC fall four subdivisions – Food Service, Supply, Services and Transportation. Combined, their mission is to coordinate and execute support for the Cadre and Cadets involved with the training course.

Everything from the smallest to the largest logistical issue is ultimately the responsibility of the chief logistical advisor to the Warrior Forge Commander, Lt. Col. Michelle Holliday. Read more of this post

Through the gas mask

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Intertwined with building Cadets’ confidence and camaraderie is an emphasis upon combat readiness. At the gas chambers, however, Cadets build confidence by experiencing the consequence of failure in their equipment.

Cadets of 1st Regiment trudge up a hill in full gear as part of the Cobalt Challenge at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear training facility as part of the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky

“We have to train all of our Soldiers on defense against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks,” said contractor Joe McCluskey, executive officer for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) training facility. “Hopefully we never have to really use it, but we have to be prepared for it.”

Through this situational training, Cadets are exposed to ortho-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, or CS tear gas. The gas is an irritant which causes a profuse flow of tears, extreme irritation of the skin and upper respiratory irritation. Read more of this post

Cadets use digital training tools at the Mission Training Complex

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Cadet Command Public Affairs Office

Third Regiment Cadet Tori Holtestaul from Claremont McKenna College spends time with the First Person Simulation at the Mission Training Complex at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD – After running, climbing and strategizing their way through the many tests of the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), Cadets go to the Mission Training Complex to explore resources found on every Army post.

In an auditorium with stadium seating and a huge projection screen, Cadets watch a training movie. Further down the hall their peers stare at computer screens while negotiating pixilated vehicles through tough terrain. Others sit in large compartments surrounded by television screens to mimic conditions drivers of the Stryker armored vehicles face.

Read more of this post

Eating in action

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Sixth Regiment Cadet Marquise Young from Campbell University enjoys a meal before doing the night Land Navigation Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD – Mama’s home cooking is hard to replace, but the food service staff at Warrior Forge keeps Cadets well fed during their 29-day challenge.

“It’s a big process,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Och, head of food services at the Leader Development and Assessment Course.

“There is a lot of preplanning that a lot of people do before this mission even kicks off because it is such a big event. Alone there are 6,500 Cadets,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Steve Szakal, also in charge of food services throughout Warrior Forge.
Read more of this post

Mission complete

First and 2nd Regiment Cadets march onto the parade field during graduated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The 29 days of sweat, stress, camaraderie and leadership during the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) all boils down to one moment, graduation.

LDAC graduates have been assessed on their leadership skills on land and water courses in all conditions and earned the right to continue their goal of becoming an Army Officer. Nearly 7,000 Cadets from 14 Regiments will graduate from LDAC, which is the greatest capstone assessment in an Army Cadet’s life.

While the majority of graduates will return to their respective colleges or universities, others will immediately don the gold bars of a second lieutenant, having completed all their previous requirements.
Read more of this post

Keeping Cadets healthy at LDAC

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Every Cadet’s blood is drawn for their permanent record, which will follow them throughout their military career. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Robert Paley

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The low hum of voices and rustle of paper rise and fall with the waves of Cadets filing in for medical processing. Nurses give directions to new arrivals while a doctor looks over a Cadet who may be allergic to bees. A Cadet avoids looking at the needle as a nurse fills the syringe with blood. At the back of the building, several staff members organize more than 7,000 records of Cadets who will participate in the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

Each month, the medical staff processes more than 3,000 Cadets at LDAC. The initial medical examination marks the beginning of a process involving a team of doctors, nurses and medics in charge of keeping Cadets healthy at LDAC.

“We follow Cadets from the time they arrive to the time they go,” said Amanda McNulty, a family practitioner who works as the deputy Officer-In-Charge for Warrior Forge medical. “Our job is to patch them up and get them back out to train.”
Read more of this post

Familiar faces, higher rank: a year after LDAC, former Cadets return as lieutenants

Second Lt. Tela O’Rurke communicates with evaluators during the Field Leader’s Reaction Course. U.S. Army photo by Alexandra Kocik

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.”
Read more of this post

Cadets shed light on the Land Navigation Course

Sixth Regiment Cadets

Sixth Regiment Cadets plot out their course at the starting point of the night Land Nav at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – It’s 8:30 p.m. and the Cadets of 6th Regiment get one last meal before they head out to face what some consider to be the most challenging event at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), night land navigation. This night they get a break from MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and get a plate full of spaghetti, bread, beans, apple sauce, fruit and cake.

Once the assessment starts the crunch of boots marching on gravel and the sloshing of leather through puddles will be the only sounds heard on the Warrior Forge land navigation course; the only exceptions being the horn signaling start and finish or the roar of an occasional helicopter overhead. Cadets are focused and ready to navigate through the night.
Read more of this post

Collaboration key in Cadets’ strategy

Cadets overcome obstacles at the Field Leaders Reaction Course on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. U.S. Army Photo by Al Zdarsky

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Many challenges at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) require Cadets to overcome fears or to see how far they can push themselves. At the Field Leader’s Reaction Course (FLRC) the most important factor to success is strategy.

Lt. Col. Gustavo Perez, chief of FLRC, will see thousands of Cadets come through his course. He knows, however, that it is not important for Cadets to overcome every obstacle, but to develop leadership skills and demonstrate those skills during the training.

“Being successful is not the object; it is being able to lead [the squad] and being able to adjust,” he said. “Don’t freeze, don’t get ‘killed’ and don’t get the squad ‘killed.’”

At FLRC Cadets go through several different lanes where their squad must overcome obstacles such as bridges, walls and mud pits within an allotted amount of time.

Read more of this post

Army Physical Fitness Test evaluates Cadets’ ability as officers

Second Regiment Cadets perform push-ups during APFT. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals.

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – They’ve prepared for this their entire ROTC career, from visiting the gym on their own to running with their college cadre back home; these Cadets are prepared and fit for the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

At LDAC Cadets must complete the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). It is through this test that the LDAC cadre decide who is ready and able to continue the course and complete events such as the confidence and obstacle courses. Should a Cadet fail the APFT, there is a possibility that they could be sent home.

“An individual’s physical fitness is directly related to an individual’s combat readiness,” said Col. Dean Shultis, Warrior Forge Commandant of Cadets. “In the Army, what we do is prepare for combat as part of our mission.” Read more of this post

TAC staff train to standardize evaluations of Cadets

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — “An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals,” according to Field Manual 6-22 (FM 6-22), a guide to Army leadership.

The Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) measures Cadets’ potential to be leaders in the military. The leadership development staff holds mandatory classes to ensure cadre use standardized leadership and evaluation methods to assess Cadets’ progress through LDAC. They hold Tactical Officer (TAC) staff school to calibrate cadre members responsible for evaluating platoons. Each platoon has a TAC, a lieutenant and a noncommissioned officer who are in charge of assessing their Cadets. Qualified assessors are also assigned to the various training committees to evaluate Cadets. Read more of this post

Cadets become part of U.S. Army history

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Ceremony based on shared history is important in connecting officers and Soldiers of the U.S. Army to their common past.

Fourth Regiment uncases their colors after being activated as “Sykes’ Regulars,” their combat unit affiliation. U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky

Through the regimental activation ceremonies at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), Cadets representing ROTC programs from all over the country become united by affiliation with 14 of the Army’s finest combat units.

“Everything we do is based on military tradition and military history,” said Lt. Col. Kevin McKay, chief of protocol for Warrior Forge. “It is all based on years of drill and ceremony. We go by military regulation at this point, but those regulations have developed since the Continental Army back in 1775.”

Cadets of 4th Regiment conducted a regimental activation ceremony June 18 to become affiliated with the U.S. Army’s 20th Infantry Regiment, also known as Sykes’ Regulars. The affiliation allows Cadets to see that they are a part of something so much bigger than a 450-person training regiment. Instead, they are training in honor of an over 150-year-old infantry unit.
Read more of this post

Leaders assess risks before testing Operation Warrior Forge Cadets

By Alexandra Kocik
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Frank Boaz conducts a secondary equipment check before Cadet Carlos Diaz from the University of Texas at El Paso rappels down the 30-foot wall during Operation Warrior Forge. U.S. Army photo by Alexandra Kocik

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Masks, ropes, helmets and maps are just a few of the tools cadets will use during Operation Warrior Forge. Although not all of these items are dangerous, the exercises they are used in must be carefully planned to avoid broken bones and equipment. Leaders with U.S. Army Cadet Command spend countless hours developing ways to avoid accidents during the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) with a motto of “Safety first, safety always.”

There are safety standards for everything from driving a 15-passenger van to running the land navigation course. Cadet Command uses a process called Composite Risk Management (CRM) to assess the dangers of any action taken on base. Risk assessment matrices measure the probability and severity of hazards and develop ways to control the situation for maximum safety. High-risk activities must be reworked to meet minimal risk requirements.
Read more of this post

Staying in shape at LDAC 2012

Warrior Forge Commandant of Cadets, Col. Dean Shultis, expresses the importance of physical fitness at the LDAC 2012 APFT.

1st and 2nd Regiments report for LDAC

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Second Lt. Starlet Baker prides herself in being the first face to welcome Cadets of the 1st Regiment to the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) this year at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The few Cadets that trickled in from the 1st and 2nd Regiments around 9:30 a.m., June 11, and the first buses that arrived, signaled the beginning of Warrior Forge 2012.

Cadet Jessica Dodd, a junior from the University of Arizona, signs in to the Leader Development and Assessment Course after arriving to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

Traveling from all over the country and some from all over the globe, U.S. Army Cadets from all different backgrounds come together at LDAC every summer to complete a crucial assessment they need before becoming second lieutenants. Cadets are flown into Sea-Tac International Airport and then bused to the base, their new home for the next month.

Cadets had a chance to bond during the flights and bus ride from the airport to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Cadet Ashlie LaFalce of 1st Regiment from State University of N.Y. College, Brockport, said that it felt like team building was already taking place.
Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 137 other followers