Air Force cadets spend weekend in field leadership exercises
Hands-on leadership experience is the hallmark of a Citadel education. The training is further bolstered by the campus ROTC units that work with cadets planning to enter the military upon graduation.
Each year the ROTC units on campus take part in training exercises designed to give future military officers first-hand knowledge and experience leading soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen. Recently, Air Force ROTC Detachment 765 deployed to North Auxiliary Airfield in North, S.C., for its annual Field Leadership Exercise. Eighty-five cadets from The Citadel and six cadets from Charleston Southern University participated in cadet-led, scenario-based leadership exercises in preparation for summer 2010 Air Force ROTC Field Training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
“This Field Leadership Exercise was our best yet!” said Col. Doug Fehrmann, commander of the Air Force ROTC unit. “Cadre and cadet leadership worked very hard on scenarios that challenged the sophomores and freshman and provided training to help them excel at summer field training.”
The cadets travelled via a C-130 flown by the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Squadron stationed in Savannah, Ga. Lt. Col. Hal Davis, commander of the 165th Airlift Squadron and Citadel Class of 1986, led the mission, along with Maj. D.J. Spisso, Citadel Class of 1996. The 30-minute flight included low level and simulated combat maneuvers.
“We were very fortunate to procure airlift to and from North Field, a rarely available opportunity due to heavy operational taskings for cargo aircraft,” Fehrmann said.
The 2010 FLX tops off a busy year of training for the unit. Cadets arrived at North Field and proceeded to build a bare base site with support from the 628th Civil Engineering Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base.
A weekend in the middle of nowhere might be peaceful and restful to some, but for these cadets there’s no sleeping in or relaxing. Saturday starts at 6 a.m. with physical training followed by a formation run. After breakfast a full spectrum of scenario-driven exercises were conducted to challenge the cadets in problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership development. The scenarios included conducting daily base operations, providing humanitarian assistance, performing search and rescue operations, responding to international media inquiries, and responding to mock base attacks.
Throughout the weekend the cadets rotated leadership positions, including command and staff positions. Cadets were evaluated by upperclassmen who had attended officer field training last summer. Training participants received feedback to help them identify their leadership strengths and areas for improvement, Fehrmann said.
On Sunday the cadets disassembled tents, packed gear, and returned to Charleston via C-17 airlift flown by the 16th Airlift Squadron based at Charleston Air Force Base.
“The FLX familiarizes all cadets with Air Force expeditionary operations through a simulated deployment and bare base set-up,” he said. “Cadets sleep in tents and eat Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs). Juniors lead the FLX—they plan and execute several group leadership problems and exercises in which sophomores and freshman use knowledge learned in classrooms and labs to formulate solutions.”
The field leadership exercise was conducted with the support of the Charleston Air Force Base and the Georgia Air National Guard. The North Air Force Auxiliary Field is owned and operated by Charleston Air Force Base, which regularly conduct training there — touch and gos, airdrop exercises and short field landings. The partnership assists the Air Force ROTC unit with transportation, tents, cots, and numerous other training items that provide cadets realistic training similar to active duty personnel.
Story and photos provided by Air Force ROTC Detachment 765