Cadets of Charlie Company of Maranatha Baptist University and Bravo Company of University of Wisconsin Whitewater recently teamed up for a “super-lab” training activity in Ladysmith, WI.
Our leaders emphasized learning and practicing squad and platoon level tactics, and overall we enjoyed a fantastic weekend.
We arrived at the training area, set up our gear, and started our first lane, or training process. My squad participated in a squad attack, and the other squad practiced a squad ambush. This first activity showed us our shortcomings and where we needed to improve.
For instance, our time management, communication, and control were a little rough the first time. We trekked through difficult terrain, including crossing a frozen river that we did not see on the map. But at the end, we completed our objectives and identified specific areas to improve.
After the activity, we enjoyed a delicious meal of homemade ham. I even ate thirds and entered a food coma later that night!
We headed out again for another squad lane. Leadership for the MSIII, or third-year, cadets changed in order to give everyone experience as a leader in these operations. This time, my squad conducted an ambush. We ran through the process twice, and I was Alpha team leader the first time.
We saw good improvement from the first day. Time management went smoothly as we met all our time hacks, the actual ambush went off beautifully as everyone knew what to do once we got there, and communication and control was solid.
We accomplished these goals because of one key component: rehearsals. We were able to rehearse at the assembling area before we left, so each team member knew what was expected of him.
As a team leader, I learned to be specific in what I wanted my men to do, to be hands on, and to micromanage the tasks in order to accomplish the overall goals of my squad leader. Rehearsing allowed me to give directions to my team about what I expected once we hit the objective.
When we practiced the ambush the second time, we placed MSI and MSII cadets, or first-year and second-year cadets, in team leader positions to give them some experience. Personal experience certainly serves as a good teacher, and these individuals did a good job.
Next, we moved to a platoon level lane. Because of the size of Charlie Company, we do not practice platoon level activities very often, so I really appreciated this opportunity.
I led our team, and it did not feel too different from a squad operation, aside from the bigger size. Visualizing elements in reading and pictures can be difficult, so running through the drill gave me a better understanding of how it works. We were also able to use paintball gear on this lane, which was pretty great.
After the final lane, we split up in squads and faced off for paintball games of capture the flag. The second squad won the first game, and the first squad, my squad, won the second game.
At the end of the day, we participated in an after-action review session (AAR) about the whole weekend and how to improve for the future. Overall, we shared many positive comments because we enjoyed the activity and learned a lot.
We finished the night with a bonfire and some chow. In the morning, we packed, cleaned, and headed back to campus.
Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude to our hosts for opening up their property for us to use. Thank you to Kirby for all you did for us this weekend, to Mike Dean from MBU for the connection, and to Bill Rand for opening up the property.
This weekend gave me an experience I will not forget. Participating in the activities provided a good bonding experience for our company, and we were also able to connect with the Bravo Company. Hopefully we will enjoy more of these super-lab activities in the future!
Cadet Patrick Tanglao