War Games: ROTC cadets participate in training sessions


Cadet Company Cmdr. Lauren Armendariz-Bast (MSIII) (left) coaches Jules Ruremesha as he operates his weapon while learning from simulation software during field training. Members of the ROTC participated in various training activities throughout the weekend.

By Alan Kozeluh

Huddled in the middle of base camp in complete darkness, Cadet Company Cmdr. Lauren Armendariz-Bast (MSIII) confers with her cadets.

“Make sure that everybody knows to stay in buddy teams at all times,” Armendariz-Bast says. “I don’t want anybody getting freaking kidnapped again.”

They are discussing the enemy’s position when a yell comes from the perimeter.

“Movement! Identify yourself!” a cadet says.

A dark figure breaks through the outer line of the perimeter and is “shot.” The figure falls down and two cadets break off to check on the hostile. The company goes back to discussing strategy.

The attack and abductions were unexpected, but the NIU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) teaches their cadets to react to the unforseen.

The events were just part of an average day for 83 cadets who spent the weekend attending field training exercises at Fort McCoy, Wis.

The Ambush

Officially, the cadets did exercises in marksmanship and land navigation, but some cadets with the rank MSIV decided to test the leadership of the MSIII cadets. Their plan was to “abduct” low-ranking cadets and see how well they could keep count of the rest while preventing anyone else from going missing, said Cadet Battalion Cmdr. David Cutsinger (MSIV).

“It feels good to be on this side,” said Cadet Bradley Wilson (MSIV), one of the planners of the raid. “We used to be in their shoes.”

Lt. Col. David Dosier, professor of military science, said keeping accountability of the soldiers at all times is imperative.

Marksmanship Training

Cadets in the military science program are trained in marksmanship at NIU. They use realistic assault rifles with lasers that interact with a computer simulation, said Cutsinger.

Before going on the shooting range, cadets practiced with the computer simulation.

Cutsinger said cadets also practiced the four fundamentals of marksmanship: breathing, aiming, trigger squeeze and steady position.

For most low-ranking cadets, the training is practice. However, seniors must qualify as marksmen in order to graduate,


Land Navigation

Cadets were provided with a map, a protractor and a list of coordinates. Using these tools, they had to navigate to each point in a 7-mile training course located in a forest, said Cadet Capt. Derek Ma (MSIV).

If they did not return before a certain time, none of their points they had to navigate to would count, said Cadet Alex Alvey (MSII). Cadets navigated the course once during the day and once at night. During the night, training cadets used red-lensed flashlights attached to their helmets so as to not ruin their vision at night. Regular lights can ruin a person’s night vision, said ROTC Supply Technician John Dickinson.

The End

Sunday, at the end of the trip, cadets marched their equipment down the road to the buses that took them back to NIU.

For some of the cadets, the session was be their last at Fort McCoy as they will move on to the Army.