ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Eastern Michigan University’s ROTC students completed training operations at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to prepare for their training camp that meet in multiple regiments throughout the summer.
This reconnaissance exercise, organized by Cadet Jim Lyons, started off with a celebration as they swore a new cadet into the program.
“Cadet Daniel Nicholas was commissioned to come and be a part of our program while still going through his degree at another university,” Maj. Chris Shilling, an assistant professor of military science, said. “We contract from other schools in the area like Lawrence Tech, Detroit Mercy and Madonna University. They come train and go through classes with us but get their degrees from the other universities.”
Shillings oversaw the training.
After Cadet Nicholas was sworn in, the platoon-sized class gathered and began going through their training mission plan. The cadets formed a circle around the squad leaders to form an Objective Rally Point (ORP). Cadet Lyons explains what it is used for.
“The ORP is set up so that there can be a secure perimeter around the squad leaders who are the ones who need to get the most information,” Shilling said. “Being a recon mission, the entire platoon does not need to be walking through and on recon, they stay back and cover the ORP for when those doing recon come back.”
These training labs happen every Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and there is a lot of planning that goes into each one, taking weeks to prepare.
“It flows from planning the big idea and works itself downward,” Shilling said. We need to register the supplies we need, the personnel involved and the risks involved in training.”
“They have this started about five weeks out, and usually it is the juniors and seniors who run and organize each lab to get them leadership and planning experience before they graduate,” Cadet Brian Kocsis, who runs the social media for Eastern Michigan University ROTC, said. The training labs are designed not only to give leadership experience but also to teach the cadets the motions of completing a mission.
“In boot camp they learn discipline, here they learn leadership and organization,” Maj. Shilling added in.
Some of the equipment used in the lab were thermal clothing, gloves and fake rifles known as “rubber ducks,” as they are just cast metal covered in a rubber coating.
This lab, as well as the other labs they do throughout the semester all, leading up to help train the cadets for the advance camp over the summer at Fort Knox. The training labs are a way to mimic what they will be evaluated on in the future.
“The plan is that they are ready for the evaluations,” Shilling said. “For example, they are required to do a 12-mile march, so throughout the semester, we build them up; they recently did a 6-mile march, and next time we add two more miles until they reach that full 12. What’s more, is that we are going to a range to get them comfortable shooting and using hand grenades. All of these things in hopes to get them ready for the evaluation.”