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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.”
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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.”
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Land Navigation Course

Warrior Forge Commandant of Cadets, Col. Dean Shultis, outlines components of the Land Navigation course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

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