Jul 07, 2020

Army ROTC trains in San Luis Obispo

Fresno State Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets spent last weekend at Camp San Luis Obispo for a three-day training exercise. The training focused on bonding and essential Army skills.

The Army ROTC provides elective courses for Fresno State students who are pursuing a commissioned officer career in the Army. Scholarships are provided to students who make a commitment to serve after graduation. Deployment to various parts of the world depends on the unit officers are assigned to.

As part of the program, about 60 cadets who participated in the training were thaught basic rifle marksmanship, day and night land navigation exercises and repelling.

“Being an Army officer, you can’t be afraid of anything. You have to step up and be willing to do something even if you are not comfortable,” Fresno State student Chris Cooper of ROTC said. “A lot of cadets are learning they need to do stuff they have never done before.

“Cadets are learning to have faith in their equipment and their instructors, this program helps them gain confidence in becoming a leader,” Cooper added.

The Army employs diverse personnel, such as health professionals, but trains each cadet as a soldier with their specialization being secondary to their status as a soldier.

“I am a nurse in the Army, but they train me as an infantry officer. Just because I am a nurse doesn’t mean I don’t have to learn how to use a gun,” Fresno State nursing student Angelia DeBenedetii said.  “For me it’s a win-win because I get to serve my country and I have a guaranteed job after college.”

A three-day training exercise was held over the weekend starting Friday through Sunday at Camp San Luis Obispo.  The first camp of the semester placed an emphasis on bonding, as this was the first event many of the freshman cadets had attended.  Three essential Army skills were taught; basic rifle marksmanship (BRM), day and night land navigation and repelling.  The camp had approximately 60 cadets and 10 cadre present.

“We have about 15-to-20 percent females in the program, and it can be challenging but we keep up with the males,” DeBenedetii said.  “They don’t go easy on us, but I have never experienced any poor attitudes because I am a female.”

“They expected us to help the freshmen along, we had to exercise some leadership roles to take care of the freshmen and show them the ropes,” Fresno State student Brian Weskamp said.

Cadets had to learn to function on little sleep and live off of Meals Ready to Eat, also known as MRE.  Their days began at 4:30 a.m. to midnight. Upon waking, cadets had to pack and subsequently carry their rucksacks throughout the day, which weigh approximately 30 pounds.

For many of the cadets, it was their first time using a firearm.  Many seniors from the MS force were present and muzzle awareness was emphasized to ensure there were no accidents.

For a cadet to get basic rifle marksmanship, students had to fire three rounds within the confines of a six-centimeter circle.  From there, they zeroed the rifle to the target, where the objective is to hit the center of mass of the target with each shot.

Once the rifle is zeroed and grouped, the cadets moved on to qualification where they fired 40 rounds into the target using three different firing positions.

In total, cadets were allowed to fire about 60 rounds from an M16.  Cadets had to hit the target 26 times to qualify.  Once qualified, the cadet becomes a marksman and can eventually become a sharpshooter and expert marksman.

ROTC students also received training in repelling. To do this, cadets tied themselves into a “Swiss Seat,” which is essentially a harness they tie onto themselves with rope.  The right hand is used as a brake and held near the lower back, the left hand is held forward to guide the rope.

“The knots, equipment and ropes are all safe and here were a lot of cheers and good jobs as the cadets went down the tower.  It was a really great way to end a three-day training exercise,” Fresno State professor of military science Lt. Col. Figlioli said.

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