Seneca BN conducts yearly Leadership Training Exercise
Once a semester, ROTC battalions spend a weekend in the field perfecting leadership and soldier skills they learn in their weekly labs. These events are called LTX’s, or Leadership Training Exercises, and are critical in a cadet’s development both as a leader and a soldier.
Seneca Battalion spent the weekend in the woods behind St. Bonaventure’s campus in a fictional border region between two countries where the Battalion had to split into squads and complete small unit missions against an insurgent force played by the Battalion’s MSIV’s.
The LTX went from 3:00 p.m. on Friday to about noon on Sunday, the entire time spent in a combat scenario. Weapons had to be within arm’s reach at all times. Guards roamed the camp’s perimeter at night, challenging anyone who got too close. Red light lenses had to be used in hours of darkness to prevent revealing positions from afar and constant accountability of all personnel and equipment was paramount.
The first night was spent in review classes, ensuring that each cadet was proficient in the tasks necessary to successfully complete a squad-level mission. The following morning, beginning at 5 a.m., cadets woke to begin establishing unit SOP’s, or Standard Operating Procedures, and practicing their skills for the missions ahead. At noon, cadets broke for lunch and headed out to start their missions.
The cadets were broken down into four squads with three or four MSIII cadets and several MSI and II’s. The MSIII’s rotated as squad leaders after every mission, the intent being that they get practice for the chance when they will lead a platoon-sized mission when they attend the Cadet Leader’s Course this summer at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There were for tactical missions, or lanes, each with a different objective and task to complete. They were an ambush, a recon, a squad attack, and a patrol along a road laden with fictional IED’s, or Improvised Explosive Devices. One big difference this year was that paintball guns were used for the duration of the exercise – meaning the opposing forces would actually be shooting at each other instead of yelling “Bang, Bang” as in years past.
The lanes lasted until 6 p.m., when cadets returned to Assembly Area “Freedom” and conducted a review of the day’s missions, identifying successes and deficiencies they’d encountered during the day.
After eating a hot meal cadets received the news that they would be conducting platoon attacks starting at 6 a.m. the following morning. While most slept, the cadets that had been identified as platoon leadership stayed awake and planned the operation, which would require moving over 3 miles through woods, swamp, and hilly terrain – mostly in the dark. Their mission was to attack and destroy an enemy listening post positioned alongside a crucial road that crossed the border
The following day cadets rose and quickly moved out, taking to the darkened forests behind St. Bonaventure, their objective near Gargoyle Park in Olean. Cadets quickly learned the challenges of operating at night and in large groups, taking roughly five hours to complete the mission and return to camp. After a brief review, they were released.
LTX 2015 stressed teaching leadership roles to cadets as early as possible. Unlike past years, MS II cadets were assigned as team leaders so they could begin to learn leadership in the field early. This development is crucial to ensure strong leadership skills going into the MSIII year, where cadets are expected to take charge both in the field and in garrison.
Now with its teeth cut, Seneca Battalion will spend the remainder of the semester perfecting the skills tested at LTX, striving to ever-improve tactical performance.
If you have any questions about ROTC at St. Bonaventure, Alfred State College, Alfred University, Houghton College, Jamestown Community College, or the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, please contact Jared Kausner at JKAUSNER@sbu.edu