LDAC a thorough training for future leaders

U.S. Army photo by Heather Cortright.

U.S. Army photo by Heather Cortright.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. is home to 6,064 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets during the summer months. They arrive two regiments at a time, making a total of 13 regiments. At the Leader Development and Assessment Course, Cadets’ training focuses on molding them into Army leaders, whether they return to their universities or commission as officers at the end of training during graduation.

After their first day that includes medical checks and various paperwork at In-Processing, Cadets receive equipment–such as helmets, canteens and socks–they will use in the field for the majority of LDAC.

Cadet Ryan Oatman, Alpha Co., 1st Regiment, from California State University, Long Beach, said the equipment they use is important in the present and will be in the future.

“[The equipment] is going to allow us to do our job, which right now is training in order to become the best United States Army warriors,” said Oatman. “The gear that we get here will allow me to support…our overall LDAC mission.”

The future Army officers affirm their commitment to the camp mission at the Regimental Activation Ceremony, where they officially join an Army regiment for the duration of training. At Road to War, they immerse themselves in a deployment-like atmosphere that puts them in the fictitious country of Atropia, where they combat enemies known as Sapa. After completing Land Navigation training, Basic Rifle Marksmanship and the Hand Grenade Assault Course, Cadets apply international relations and safety skills at Cultural Awareness.

Cadet Kevin Otwoma, Bravo Co., 2nd Regiment, a student at the University of Central Florida and from Orlando, Fla., said Cultural Awareness taught what an essential role understanding culture can play in future missions.

“Maybe if we understand each other, we wouldn’t have so many conflicts,” said Otwoma.

Cadets also learn how to detect improvised explosive devices and shoot live ammunition at Squad Live Fire, a new feature at LDAC this year. They then test their mental endurance at the Confidence Course and their patrolling leadership skills at Tactical Leader training, followed by the Squad Situation Training exercise.

Pvt. Louis A. Harrington, the trainer evaluator for Bravo Co., 1st Regiment, said Cadets will continue to use the skills they learn at squad STX.

“This helps prepare them not only to lead a squad one day, but teaches them basic tactical knowledge,” said Harrington. “No matter what branch they’re in, they’re a Soldier first.”

Platoon training, the Water Confidence Course and a trip through the gas chamber conclude training. As a finishing touch, Cadets attend Branch Orientation, a job fair-like event for various occupations Cadets can branch into.

The 29 days of learning lead to graduation, signifying Cadets’ final training accomplishments before becoming commissioned officers.

Cadet Daniel Brereton, Bravo Co., 8th Regiment, from Fordham University and Glen Gardner, N.J., said LDAC taught him the importance of working with a team.

“A lot of people complain about LDAC…but it’s good training, and you get what you put into it,” said Brereton. “When everyone’s in it and dedicated, that’s when you get the best training.”

As LDAC 2013 closes, the future Army leaders go back to their universities or to further training as second lieutenants, all prepared to use their skills and knowledge in service to their communities and to their country.

Story by Monica Spees.

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