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A combatives instructor teaches proper technique during a combatives portion of AFROTC summer field training at Maxwell Air Force Base, June 13. Field training is designed to evaluate cadets’ leadership potential and discipline and their readiness to enter into the Professional Officer Course in their junior year, a requirement before receiving a commission from ROTC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship)
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ROTC summer field training, molding the leaders of tomorrow

Posted 6/27/2013   Updated 6/27/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class William J. Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs

6/27/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- Approximately 2,400 Air Force ROTC cadets are forgoing lazy summers at home for a series of 28-day field training courses at Maxwell.

Field training is designed to evaluate cadets' leadership potential and discipline and their readiness to enter into the Professional Officer Course in their junior year, a requirement before receiving a commission from ROTC.

The first few minutes of field training are similar to the experience enlisted recruits encounter when arriving for basic military training at Lackland AFB, Texas.

"Getting off the bus was terrifying," said Cadet Kody Derozier, a student at South Dakota State University. "The MTIs (military training instructors) get on the bus and set the tone for our time here immediately. It is a definite culture shock, and you either adjust or you won't be here very long, and there goes your military career right there."

The cadets are split into flights where they will attack the training program teamed up with others from all over the U.S.

"This is the pivotal point in cadets' training as far as being in the ROTC program," said Capt. Henry Sims Jr., operations flight commander at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill detachment. "This serves as their basic military training and gateway into the professional officer's course. They become more of the leaders in the detachment rather than a follower as an underclassman."

Sims is one of several ROTC detachment cadre who to come to field training as instructors.

The military services' ROTC cadets participate in basic military education and officer training, varying on their specific branch of service, while receiving higher education just like the other students on campus.

"Back at school, as freshman and sophomores, they learn what the Air Force is all about by watching the upper classmen who have already been to field training," said Sims. "They earn the opportunity to sharpen their skills and come here to learn how to lead.

During their training days here, cadets are on the move from reveille at 4 a.m. until lights out at 9 p.m.

"It's definitely a shock in the morning when you get woken up with all of the yelling, whistles blowing and forced quick movements out of bed and ready to go," said Derozier. "It gets fairly hot in South Dakota, but here, the humidity is unforgiving all day long. Water is a priority constantly as we try and make it through the busy day."

Cadets are tested in physical fitness, drill, the Field Training Manual and the Airman's Manual. Those who pass the tests earn the opportunity to advance to the next two years of training in their detachments.

Part of the curriculum at field training is a 14-day mock deployment, where cadets are taught expeditionary skills. For the exercise, they are assigned supporting roles within their groups, which gives them the opportunity to put the leadership training they've learned in the classroom to practical use in the field.

"Out at the deployment location, they receive more understanding of the warrior ethos," said Sims. "When they get out there, they take what they have learned up to that point and start to execute special tactics and have the opportunity to better understand leadership positions down range. In real-world scenarios, these cadets will be better prepared for situations through the baseline situations they go through in the simulated combat environment."

Returning from the "deployment," cadets complete their training days and prepare to take their experiences here back to their detachments.

"You fine tune all of your problem solving and leadership qualities while you are here," said Derozier. "When I go back, I am supposed to be a flight commander, and it will be my responsibility to be a leader in the detachment. What I learn here will be instrumental in my preparedness for what will be expected of me not only when I return to college, but throughout my military career."

7/27/2014 7:52:40 PM ET
My son is at Maxwell now for field training. I haven't heard anything from him. Are there any sites to see pictures or Facebook groups
Eileen, New Jersey
7/10/2014 1:21:07 PM ET
The Tran's family has two beaufiful girls who was there last year and the younger one is currently at the training. We are very proud of them. We are very proud of all of you ROTC. Best wishes.
Hoan B. Tran, Livermore CA
6/27/2014 5:36:08 PM ET
My little boy is there - OK he's about 6'3. I don't even know when graduation is.Is there anywhere we can see photos
Lt Col H, Los Angeles
7/19/2013 2:33:52 PM ET
My daughter is there now I am so excited to travel to Maxwell AFB for the graduation parade next Tuesday. I am so proud of my daughter.
Mary Ann Burr, Loveland OH
7/17/2013 5:21:36 PM ET
Great to find this information online my daughter is attending this training right now and I'm really looking forward to seeing her graduation next week. Not really worried about her per se she's a former enlisted woman with deployment experience so I know she's doing all right.
Leslie Jenne, Jacksonville FL
7/15/2013 5:50:15 PM ET
Our son is attending the training right now. Thank you for the very informative article. Both his mother and I miss him but are proud of the opportunity he has been given. We wish him and all his fellow cadets the best.
Terry Scherer, LaPorte IN
7/13/2013 7:11:29 PM ET
Our son is also there right now in Max 4. Thank you for this information cant wait to see him at the end of the month
Loma Rockwell, Bellevue Wa
7/10/2013 8:08:13 PM ET
Thank you for this very informative article. Our son is there now for MAX 4 and I really enjoyed reading this. I also enjoyed your earlier-posted photos of the cadets in SFT. Thank you for helping the families of these cadets stay a bit more in the loop.
Maresa Spangler, Midothian VA
7/8/2013 5:40:35 PM ET
My son is there participating in the field training. Your article was very helpful in understanding what he is experiencing. I am hoping he is doing well and am looking forward to the parade on the 23rd.
Christine Ortiz, Thurmont MD
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