Future Army officers train in San Luis Obispo

Fresno State Nursing Major and Third-year Cadet Angela Debenedetti
issues an operation order to her element prior to execution of a
Patrol at Camp San Luis Obispo during a Joint Field Training Exercise
with UCSB and Cal Poly.
Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Figlioli

Waking up at 4:30 a.m. and putting on a 40-pound rucksack to do training exercises might sound extremely challenging to the average person, but for Army cadets it’s a way of life.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) held a field training exercise in San Luis Obispo.

Cadets were evaluated in field conditions as they led  missions such as ambush, how to deal with civilians on the battlefield and collecting reconnaissance information.

“We trained approximately 138 cadets,” said Lt. Col. Figlioli. They were from Fresno State as well as UCSB and Cal Poly. The purpose is to intermingle our third year cadets with cadets from other schools to take them out of their comfort zone.”

“This is in preparation for summertime attendance at a leadership development and assessment course, as well as Army airborne and air assault school.”

For a combat simulation training exercise, all cadets were issued M16 rifles and some squad automatic weapons (M249 SAW).

They were loaded with blank cartridges to give them a feel for what real combat is like, minus the bullets flying through the air.

The opposing force was also made up of Army cadets who were defending their position with M240 Bravos.

“It’s really loud,”said Chris Cooper of the Fresno State ROTC. The squad leaders were yelling orders, and the evaluators were throwing variables at them.”

Cadet Eli Racusin keeps a close watch over his base while a
fragment of his main squad performs a mission.
Photo courtesy of Chris Cooper

From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. nighttime land navigation was practiced. A compass, protractor and red-lens flashlight were the only tools allowed for their navigation in the darkness.

After getting about an hour and a half of sleep, the officers in training had to develop and execute a plan.

“Cadets get little sleep and are put under stressful situations as they lead other cadets on evaluated missions,” Cooper said. It’s just kind of the ultimate test to see if people can perform on little sleep.”

It was called squad tactical exercises, meant to pair the cadets with people they did not know for evaluation.

“I was assigned to conduct an ambush, and I did very well on it,” said Megan Maloy of the Fresno State ROTC. I was a little unconfident on where my objective was, but I trusted in my squad.”

“The leadership pulled through,” said Eli Racusin of the Fresno State ROTC. “We ended up assaulting at the right time. The claymore went off… it got pretty hectic fast and we just laid down massive amounts of fire for a solid minute or two.”

On Sunday, everyone went back to the barracks to clean the M16s and their living quarters over the weekend. They nursed their wounds and packed up to head home.

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