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Penn College Students Among Cadets in Training Exercise


From Nov. 10-11, Bison Battalion cadets from five colleges and universities in the area – including Pennsylvania College of Technology – completed their fall field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Karoondinha in Millmont.

Seniors trained first-, second- and third-year cadets to enhance their skills for the spring FTX. Cadets were evaluated as leaders, allowing them to reflect on their performance in order to better prepare for future operations. Among the activities were day and night land navigation, situational training exercises (STX), tactical knowledge and establishment of patrol bases.

First-year cadets received training from senior Cadets Steven Shorter, from Bloomsburg University, and Patrick Towery, from Bucknell University, including specialty team operations, using terrain model kits on a sand table, squad formations and movement techniques, and situational-training operations.

First-year cadets applied the lessons they had learned into “STX Lanes” – scenarios that replicate real-life situations. They organized themselves into two squads and rotated among attack, ambush, movement-to-contact and reconnaissance lanes, then concluded their training for the day by opposing one another in a force-on-force lane.

The senior cadets then gave a class on how to be successful in college, as well as how to gain financial assistance to pay for their education.

Second- and third-year cadets led squad-sized elements through multiple lane operations throughout the FTX. During those exercises, cadets tactically planned and rehearsed the mission, moved to the objective, and conducted actions on the objective in order to complete the STX lane mission. Cadets led squads through different situations to include ambush, attack, recon, movement-to-contact and variable-situation lanes.

“Having the opportunity to lead my peers in a tactical environment was really exciting, since this is applicable to what I am going to be doing for a career,” said Cadet Frank Valenza, a third-year cadet at Susquehanna. “At the same time, however, it was really nerve-racking trying to keep accountability of everyone and plan out the mission. Overall, it was a great opportunity to apply the knowledge I’ve gained over the past three years into a tactical environment.”

In the land-navigation exercises, cadets had to find nonreflective markers hidden in the woods by plotting their grid location using only a map, protractor and compass.

In order to pass daytime land navigation, cadets needed to locate five out of eight points within four hours on a course encompassing different terrain features such as intermittent streams, hills, draws and ridges. For many first-year cadets, this was their first time trying to find points in the woods using limited resources.

At night, cadets are authorized to use a red light in addition to their map, protractor and compass to navigate the course. The red lens is used to create a tactical environment while they complete the course; to pass, cadets needed to find three out of five points within two hours.

When evening navigation was finished, cadets established patrol bases for nighttime operations. Third-year cadets used their chain of command to develop and create patrol bases that ensured 360-degree security at all times , allowing cadets to complete their priorities of work before resting for the next day of STX lanes.

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