After marching through the woods and finding a secure location, the cadets quietly lay hidden in the cold snow and awaited the approaching enemy. The opposing forces came into view. The cadets raised their rifles and set their sights accordingly. After a few quick shots, the opposing forces fell to the ground. Mission accomplished.
The Maranatha ROTC program has been carefully structured around leadership training that enforces their motto of becoming “Rock Solid” military leaders. Every Thursday, all cadets participate in a leadership lab that teaches various military exercises. On February 8, the cadets gathered as usual and performed an ambushing exercise in the woods at Brandt-Quirk Park.
Leadership Lab Rundown
The juniors, also known as MS IIIs (Military Science level 3), alternate between leading these weekly leadership labs. MS III Robert Kile served as this week’s leader. The afternoon began with MS IV Benjamin Schulz presenting what is known as the operation order to Cadet Kile. The operation order informs the leader of all necessary details for that exercise. The information ranges from the weather, the mission, and resources to a variety of other factors that must be considered.
Cadet Kile then presented this plan to the cadets beneath him. Captain DeGreeff explains that in the ROTC program, leaders teach visually, verbally and through hands-on rehearsals, allowing the cadets to best understand and absorb the information. Cadet Kile incorporated each of these styles. He told his fellow cadets the plan, illustrated on the chalk board, built a sand model of the various field elevations and then required the cadets to perform the ambush exercise for themselves. Once the plan was presented verbally and visually, all cadets gathered outside Module W. They quickly stepped through each part of the exercise, ensuring they were prepared to execute.
The cadets then piled into a fifteen-passenger van and drove to Brandt-Quirk Park to complete the exercise. As the van drove up to the designated spot, Captain DeGreeff turned to Cadet Kile and said, “Inform your men that as soon as they step foot out of this van, they are in tactical mode.” The ambush exercise had begun.
Charlie Company marched behind their leader. Cadet Kile strategically navigated them behind an elevated area where they prepared for ambush. MS IVs served as the “opposing forces” for this exercise. As they approached the hidden cadets, the ambush exercise was successfully carried out. Upon completion of the lab, the cadets drove back to Module W where they discussed and analyzed their execution.
The leadership labs these ROTC cadets perform all have an overarching purpose, but each lab also holds its own specific purpose. Spring semester labs teach tactical exercises, preparing the cadets for advanced camp. Advanced camp is a rigorous four-week training program of military exercises. All cadets must complete it in order to commission.
Beyond this general goal, however, every operation order provides a purpose statement that is specific to each leadership lab. “If you accomplish that [purpose statement], then you’ve accomplished your mission,” says Captain DeGreeff. The goal of this particular lab was to completely and successfully perform an ambush.
The continual process of strategizing, organizing, and performing these labs shapes the cadets into leaders—leaders that will carry on their “Rock Solid” legacy and make a difference in the United States Military and beyond.