ROTC program to hold weekend retreat

By Newell Miao

The black helicopters are coming, why we shouldn’t be afraid.

Students participating in the ROTC program have the opportunity to catch a ride on military UH-60 Blackhawks Thursday.

ROTC has teamed with the Air National Guard as well as the university to allow the helicopters to land on campus and transport cadets to their weekend training grounds. Eric Hall, senior industrial management and technology major, is an MS4 and helped plan the field training exercise (FTX) that the helicopters will be used for.

“They’re going to teach us how to get tactically dropped off,” Hall said. “Last year when we flew, we were tactically inserted and began receiving fire from the OPFOR–opposing forces–right away. They integrate it into our training for the weekend.”

The ROTC program has a history of using helicopters on campus. Cadre member Capt. Demarco Williams said the type of aircraft used depends on availability. The difficulty in obtaining helicopters means the Army goes to great length to provide them for the cadets. Williams said the ROTC had attempted to obtain helicopters the last two years and the first thing that needed to be done was obtain approval from the Air National Guard. Even if the Air National Guard gives the ROTC the go-ahead for the mission, availability for the pilots and aircraft are questionable. ROTC works hand in hand with the university in order to ensure the landing zones are safe for the bystanders and the cadets. Even if everything goes right the weather can still rain on the parade.

“The weather has to be damn near perfect for us to land on campus, as well,” Williams said.

Even if the planning process occurs without a hitch there is still a distinct possibility the helicopters will not come. The cadets planning the training exercise must accommodate this and prepare alternate plans should the helicopter not be available.

“We always have a secondary plan when it comes to aircraft,” Williams said. “The pilots can call and say, ‘Hey, based off the weather that we’re getting we can’t fly,’ and just like that, even if the university is on board and everything is laid on, they can still scrub it at the last minute. So instead of being in a reactive posture we like to be proactive. So we always have coach buses and our vans ready to go to get everybody down there with equipment.”

Students may find it difficult to work with helicopters because of the variables that need to be accounted for. Lt. Col. David Dosier feels despite the hardship these machines can still teach the students a lot. The difficulty of working with aircraft can teach the cadets how to be flexible with their planning and to not take anything for granted. For the Army, helicopters are just as much a teaching tool as white boards, and they are crucial to the instruction of cadets. Cadets receive real-world training experience they can then utilize in their futures as military officers.

“Even in the real Army you can plan to use aviation; doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Dosier said. “Weather comes in and aircraft break down, and so for the seniors, they got to plan all this, and they got to be flexible enough to know, ‘Hey, aviation.’”

If the weather is cooperative and everything else falls into place the cadets will have the chance to feel what it is like to travel at 175 mph.