Hand grenade assault course provides Cadets with realistic battlefield experience


U.S. Army photo by Heather Cortright.

With learning how to properly throw hand grenades as the first thing on the training agenda for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets on the morning of June 21, Sgt. 1st Class Ellis Marshall wanted them alert and focused.

“You all ready to do this, or do you want to go to Dunkin Donuts and drink some coffee?” he asked 1st Regiment Cadets as they waited in line to practice throwing a fake grenade from a kneeling position.

To show their eagerness, the Cadets promptly responded with a collective “Hooah.”

Although hand grenade protocol was a large part of the hand grenade assault course at the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Marshall, the range non-commissioned officer in charge, said Cadets also needed to get their first feel of small-arms fire. After practicing with the fake 2.5-pound grenades, Cadets moved to another portion of the range where they used their skills with dummy grenades among simulated machine gun fire and explosions.

“They should learn what combat speed is and how it affects them as a buddy team,” said Marshall.

On a course that Marshall and Master Sgt. Jonathon Miller built in one week out of recycled material from the woods where the course is located, Cadets sprinted from station to station, weaving in and out of trees and ducking through green smoke.

Cadet Rebecca Walker, Alpha Co., 1st Regiment, an Auburn University student from Peachtree City, Ga., said the piercing noises and other Cadets’ yelling was good training.

“It helps us make quick decisions,” said Walker. “That’s imperative to being a leader. You’ve got to be quick, got to think on your feet.”

Walker also said learning movement techniques and proper positioning would benefit her overall in training.

“It’s kind of a crawl, walk, run phase,” she said. “It makes us more well-rounded.”

Cadet Kirill Zemlyanskiy, Alpha Co., 1st Regiment, from State College, Pa., said he wants to take his knowledge and experience from the hand grenade assault range to the underclassmen at his university, Penn State.

“[This course] definitely gives you a familiarization with the weapons the U.S. Army has to offer,” he said. “We can be more effective leaders if we know how to use the weapons.”

Marshall said he and other Cadre want to get Cadets out of “TV mode,” which could have led them to think throwing grenades is as simple as tossing a baseball. Just like any part of their training, Cadets should take it seriously.

“If they fail their part, it could affect more than just themselves,” said Marshall.

Story by Monica Spees.


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