As the summer approaches, most get ready to take a break, enjoy the weather, and have some fun. For many college juniors, its their last summer before entering the world as full fledged functional humans. For ROTC MSIII’s, that has already come and gone. This summer will be spent in glamorous and sunny Fort Knox, Kentucky. Advanced Camp, also known as Cadet Summer Training (CST), is the biggest military training event of the year. Over 15,000 cadets cycle through cadet command each year.
CST is sort of like basic training for cadets. It is considered to be the final training exercise to qualify cadets for commissioning. Upon completion of the month long course, cadets basically just have to complete their senior year in to become lieutenants.
ROTC requirement to commission
Cadets are lead through multiple training exercises, where upon completion puts them one step closer to being able to commission. Events and exercises include passing ROTC prescribed day and night land nav, marksmanship, a confidence course, CBRNE, TCCC, and repel tower.
These cadets, from all around the country, are also required to complete three ruck marches during their time at camp. Though these rucks do not compare to the active duty twenty milers, cadets are expected to finish a six, eight, and twelve mile rucks. These events are graded as pass or fail. If failed, cadets are afforded the opportunity to pass with another attempt.
Additionally, cadets are graded on their leadership skills throughout camp. Leadership roles are cycled through daily, with the next mornings leaders being chosen the night before. In garrison and in the field, cadets will receive a total of four blue cards. One psg/pl position in the field and in garrison, and a cycle of squad leader as well. Though they are only graded once, depending on the size of their platoon, cadets may hold these positions multiple times and will act accordingly.
Right of passage
At the end of the summer, the accomplishments cadets received from Advanced Camp follow them back to school. Some earn the Recondo badge, meaning they had gone above and beyond the expectations in all training events. The blue card grades each cadet received helps their school cadre rank them in their class.
When applied to the rest of a cadet’s resume from their ROTC college years, their branching selection is determined. The better they have done over all allows them to be slotted in more lucrative branches. The higher ranking branches are typically combat arms, along with MI, MS, and aviation.
For many, this is the first time they have ever experienced something so challenging. For others, this is one of the many building blocks to their already stable foundationas a leader. Regardless, the future of America’s military lies in the woods of Fort Knox, deep in the heat of Kentucky summers.