Parachuting and warfare training

Army ROTC cadets spend the summer training around the country.

Rebecca Shrake

 

During the school year, the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Army ROTC cadets wake up well before the rest of campus to sweat through an intense 6:30 a.m. workout filled with push-ups, sit-ups and timed runs.

But now that itâÄôs summer, itâÄôs a little quieter around the Armory.

Out of the 140 cadets in the Gopher Battalion, 60 have been or will be dispatched around the country at different training camps where they jump out of airplanes, climb mountains and further develop their leadership skills.

âÄúWe keep them busy,âÄù said Lt. Col. Michael Conway, professor of military science at the University. Some of the camps are more intense than the school year training, he said.

In 2009 and 2011, the UniversityâÄôs battalion won the MacArthur Award, given to the top eight of 272 battalions nationally based on training, recruiting, retention rates and an overall excellence.

Conway said the MacArthur Award is a good indicator of skill.

âÄúI know that when they get commissioned [as officers], I can feel confident that they have the competency to go out and lead soldiers in military operations,âÄù he said.

Right after spring semester, the battalion travels to Arden Hills, Minn., where cadets go through tactical and land navigation training, including a 10-km road march while carrying 40-pound backpacks.

After the Arden Hills training concludes, some cadets leave Minnesota.

For some, summer is one of the highlights of being in ROTC. Recent graduate Jacob McLellan said the summer camps gave him broader experience. McLellan is now an Army second lieutenant and will start training as an Infantry officer in February.

During his four years in ROTC, McLellan went to four summer programs. He became parachutist-qualified after attending the three-week Airborne School in Fort Benning, Ga., where cadets are trained to jump from Air Force aircrafts.

At the Army Mountain Warfare School, located in the mountains of Jericho, Vt., McLellan and other cadets learned techniques for mountain warfare and cold weather operations.

Out of about 10 different training camps to choose from, the Leader Development and Assessment Course in Washington state is mandatory for cadets between their junior and senior years. During the five-week program, cadets are evaluated on their leadership during battlefield-like conditions and are ranked nationally.

McLellan was ranked in the top 9 percent out of 6,272 cadets when he went to LDAC.

Supuwuo Roberts, a University senior, trained at LDAC last summer and said even though they are being ranked, âÄúitâÄôs not all serious.âÄù

âÄúYou bond and build relationships with the guys there as well,âÄù he said.

Roberts spent his junior year preparing for LDAC. Once he got there, he said it was tough to put everything he learned into action, but soon it clicked.

âÄúAt the end of the day, we all went to camp last summer, we were all successful and we were one of the better battalions,âÄù Roberts said.

HeâÄôs spending this summer concentrating on the books so he can finish his psychology degree and graduate in December. Keeping himself fit is still a priority, though, so he starts his days at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. with runs and visits to the gym.

He said it feels great to not get up for 6:30 a.m. physical training, but he also feels a little lazy.

âÄúIt feels like IâÄôm cheating or something.âÄù