Every Thursday morning, the cadets of the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) meet for morning labs to learn how to become future leaders in the United States Army. Cadets are given tasks and must lead other cadets in carefully planned training exercises. These labs are designed to not only give cadets the opportunity to test themselves as leaders, but also to give them an idea of the struggles that a military officer might face in modern warfare.
On March 22, Cadet Ian Dahm led cadets in two scenarios to simulate situations they may encounter overseas and also to test other cadet’s leadership abilities in these situations.
The first scenario was to show how to deal with the media on the battlefield, where sometimes nosy reporters from the Stoutonia or other major news organizations can cause problems. By not moving tactically, a reporter could give away a squad’s position or walk into a known enemy location. To keep the reporter safe—and from interfering with the mission—the cadets had to inform the media that the area was not safe. Cadets also ask reporters for any information about the area that may be helpful to the mission.
Since a reporter could also be a spy, or accidently disclose classified information, cadets are kept from disclosing information about the mission, information about themselves, or anything about the equipment that they were carrying.
“To treat civilians on the battlefield and media on the battlefield in a calm and professional manner will help the soldiers in the long run,” said Dahm. “The soldiers are there for the well being of not only themselves, but the well being of others.”
The other scenario cadets went through was how to react to an improvised explosive device (IED). Simulation IEDs were hidden along a path cadets were traveling on. After finding the IED, they cleared the area and called up Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD). Keeping a sharp eye and knowing the common tricks used by bomb makers is the key to completing this exercise.
“Our cadre stressed to us after in the After Action Review (AAR) that when deployed, they’ve witnessed an entire unit waiting for hours on end, even entire days, waiting for EOD to come in and take care of an IED,” said Dahm. “By taking ownership of the IED, you create precautionary measures to protect innocent civilians, children, other soldiers, etc.”
These exercises not only get cadets ready for leading soldiers in the U.S. Army, but get them prepared for Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) which is a course that is used to rate cadets after their junior year. At LDAC they will go through a month long field exercise that will test them on all the things that they learn at their weekly labs at UW-Stout.
“The training is very staged, and to be honest can create some laughs at times, but the situations abroad and at home are very real,” Cadet Dahm. “It’s these thorough processes that will save lives. That’s what’s important, that lives are not taken on either side of the playing field.”