Pre-Combat Inspections

ROTC students prepare for a weekend of nighttime missions and 5 a.m. wake-up calls

    The USF Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is gearing up for the big show.

Students in ROTC will soon tackle spring semester’s Combined Field Training Exercises (CFTX), a biannual, three-day-long event where cadets demonstrate and practice the military specific skill set they developed concurrently with university curricular at USF. Next week they go, this week is prep.

Ask Captain Michael Pasquale — acting cadre or training officer at USF ROTC and veteran of the US Army’s actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq — and he will tell you that much of ROTC is preparation followed by examination. He explained that cadets are currently reviewing field-procedures and undergoing Pre-Combat Inspection (PCI) in anticipation of next week’s CFTX.

Military Science (MS) courses teach cadets lessons in the theory and practice of military concepts. CPT Pasquale said this week’s lesson taught cadets to administer first aid, so that if any injuries occur in next week’s training exercises, cadets will be able to self-administer aid.

Cadets also learned how to deal with both hot and cold weather injuries, both of which they may encounter in the upcoming exercise. The operation order, a memorandum cataloging the necessary preparations and expected conditions of CFTX, predicts temperatures will vary by as much as forty degrees.

Unlike the typical college student, whose advancement throughout university is acknowledged with the titles of freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior, the ROTC cadet is referred to in concordance with his completed level of MS training.

MS III’s, shorthand for third year cadets,  spend six weeks taking part in the Leader Development and Assessment Course, yet another valuation of a cadet’s future potential as an officer.

Cadet Major Joseph Wyatt, a senior media studies major, was an MS III when his performance in last summer’s Leaders Training Course earned him a rating of overall E. According to the US Army Leadership Development handbook this puts Wyatt in the top 8th percentile of those who complete the course.

One of Cadet Wyatt’s responsibilities is to oversee his fellow cadets assembling makeshift shelters known as hooches. “The hooch,” he explained, “is made by fastening a tarp with tent stakes.”

Staff Sergeant Brian Park, MS III, stood stoically at attention while superiors examined his field pack for preparedness as part of ROTC’s Pre-Combat Inspection (PCI), last Friday afternoon. Photo by Joe Isaac/Foghorn

Staff Sergeant Brian Park, MS III, stood stoically at attention while superiors examined his field pack for preparedness as part of ROTC’s Pre-Combat Inspection (PCI), last Friday afternoon. Photo by Joe Isaac/Foghorn.

Making a hooch is nothing new to Cadet Staff Sergeant Brian Park, a political science major, stoically stood at attention as his field pack was thoroughly scrutinized by Cadet Battalion Commander Elliott  and Cadet Sergeant Major Wing. While his superior officers rifled through the contents of his pack, including the cadet’s blanket, sunglasses, and spare socks, he appeared tense.

Moments after the inspection was finished, Cadet Park, now at ease, explained the necessity of such attention to detail.

Cadet Park told how during PCI, cadets must examine every item of their field pack in order to ensure that equipment will not fail when most needed. He said the cadets would be overnighting in their sleeping bags, officially referred to as Army Modular Sleep Systems, which were essential items to protect against the projected 44 degree nighttime weather conditions at Fort Hunter Liggett, where CFTX takes place this year.

Though only so much preparation can be done for CFTX, where USF cadets will be expected coordinate their efforts with unfamiliar cadets from three other universities. Cadet Park for one looks forward to the experience.

“You get to meet people you never would have met before… the beauty is when you come together.”

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