Maranatha ROTC Cadet Andrew Domsic retells the story of his three weeks at Cadet Troop Leader Training in Georgia this summer.
One of the greatest training opportunities for ROTC cadets is the Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) program. This program is an internship during which the cadet spends 2-to-4 weeks shadowing a lieutenant in an operational or training unit. It provides firsthand experience in working with Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) and superior officers managing a unit and working with the junior enlisted. I was assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade at Ft. Benning, GA, from July 22 to August 12.
My situation with 2-19 was a little different than most CTLT cadets. Since I was attached to an infantry One Site Unit Training (OSUT) unit, there were no lieutenants. I shadowed the Commanding Officer (CO), CPT Dills, instead. I had a great time working with him and gained a lot of practical and leadership knowledge. When we were in the field, I spent a lot of time with the drill sergeants and privates. I helped the drill sergeants supervise and instruct the privates in everything from constructing defensive positions to conducting raids and ambushes. Two cadets from The Citadel and the University of Colorado joined me in the task of planning a mission for our platoon. I put together and briefed a plan for an ambush, much as I had done in the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) and at school in previous years. It was great to able to put my past learning and experience to use in an actual Army training unit.
One of the greatest benefits of working with a training unit is the ability to work alongside of and directly observe the privates during their training. When we weren’t out in the field with our platoons, we were training alongside them at the ranges. Working directly with the privates gave us a chance to interact with them and know exactly what to expect of them in the future. I really enjoyed getting to know them. Most were hard-working and well-disciplined. We participated with the privates in their Squad Tactical Training (STT) and Advanced Rifle Marksmanship (ARM). All three of us qualified in ARM, did live fire team movements with the privates, and led the privates in battle drills during their Field Training Exercises (FTXs).
About half of the time was spent in the field for FTXs. The first was actually during the second day I was there. After breifings with the battalion and brigade commanders, we were issued rucks, helmets, and body armor, along with various other field gear. We then headed out to the patrol bases. That night we practiced squad column/fire team wedge movement using Night Observation Devices (NODs). It was great fun and a lot easier tramping around in the dark using night vision devices. After returning from the field and spending a week back at garrison we went out on the final FTX of the cycle. We learned field craft and practiced raids, recons, and ambushes. On the last day of the FTX, we conduct a Mounted React To Contact (MRTC) using HMMWVs and Strykers—awesome! I played the role of Platoon Leader (PL) as we reacted to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), obstacle, ambush, and conducted a raid. The training culminated with a 12-mile ruck march battle march and the 5-mile eagle run.
It was a great experience that gave me a better understanding of how to work with NCOs and the junior enlisted. I enjoyed the training exercises with the privates at the ranges and in the field. For those who would like to learn and grow in leadership, I strongly recommend the CTLT program.