Field training most important part of a cadet’s life

Editor’s note: This story was written by Kinsey Gustafson, a student in Lyle Olson’s magazine writing class. Other stories written by the students can be viewed at www.sdstate.edu/as.

The first two years of a cadet’s time in Air Force ROTC prepares them for a four-week field training encampment.  Air Force ROTC Headquarters determines which cadets will be selected for field training by looking over a package cadets have worked on during their first two years.

A package includes the cadets’ physical fitness assessment, their GPA and ACT score, involvement and ranking. The cadre ranks the sophomore cadets, and  headquarters selects them for field training.

Cadets find out during the spring semester if they will be attending field training, and once summer rolls around, people start going to camp.

Field training is a total of 28 days. The cadets go through many different situations to test their strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s not to train you how to be an officer; you develop those skills further during field training,” explains Junior Cadet Travis Charfauros. “They give you simulated stress and see how you act under pressure. They want to know your tolerance cap.”

This past summer field training started with 10 days at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, where the cadets marched and did a broad variety of combat training.  Then cadets went to Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in Mississippi for a 14-day mock deployment.

After the cadets return to Maxwell Air Force Base for the remaining four days, they participate in competitions and get ready for the graduation parade, which is the most anticipated part of field training.

The graduation parade is also known as pass and review. Six squadrons march into lines and form a rectangle to salute the reviewer. Charfauros says that is the moment to say “this is what we’ve become.”

Each flight has a cadet training assistant who helps the field training officer evaluate the cadets. The field training officers rank cadets during field training. Cadets must apply themselves and make a team effort because those who rank the highest help the team.

Says Junior Cadet Ethan McMahon, “Besides being a huge leadership experience, (field training) really helped me find my leadership style and how to modify it. I personally wasn’t prepared for it, but I don’t regret anything that happened. It was an amazing experience.”

After field training is over, cadets are given actual leadership positions to see what they have gained from field training. They apply for jobs during their last two years of Air Force ROTC and are looking toward their actual Air Force career.

Not only is the experience and growth an important part of field training, but cadets also are honored if they are chosen to come back to field training the next year as cadet training assistants.

Field training is an important part of a cadet’s future in the Air Force, but most importantly, it shapes the cadet’s character. They learn leadership, self-confidence, teamwork and how to handle themselves in stressful environments.

Kinsey Gustafson

Leave a Reply