Mocs ROTC Battalion Distinguishes Itself in Assessment Course
(From left to right) Madison Nickell; Desirae Roberts; Heather Weaver; Michael Reynolds; MacKenzie Carlyon; ROTC Moccasin Battalion
LAKELAND (Sept. 18, 2012) – Preparing to become an Army officer is hard work, and each year Florida Southern’s ROTC battalion goes through extensive training exercises to ensure that the cadets will meet the standards the Army requires.
That hard work has paid off for the battalion, which is now ranked seventh out of 39 college ROTC battalions in the Southeast, a higher ranking than much larger schools.
CDT Desirae Roberts, a junior biology and pre-veterinary major, teaching English to school-age children in Kyrgyzstan.
It has also paid off for 10 cadets in the Moccasin battalion who completed an intense 29-day evaluation program over the summer. The Leader Development and Assessment Course, also known as Warrior Forge, was conducted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.
Warrior Forge is often a cadet’s first exposure to life on an active Army installation and one of the few opportunities where cadets and officer candidates from around the country undergo a common training experience. It is designed to build confidence through tough and demanding training. Cadets who wish to be commissioned as Army officers must successfully complete the course, usually prior to their senior year.
In order to successfully complete the course, cadets must earn points in each phase of the Army Physical Fitness Test (push-ups, sit-ups and a timed two-mile run), receive a 70 percent score in both day and night land navigation tests and satisfactory scores on Leadership Development and Army Values criteria.
Three FSC cadets distinguished themselves at Warrior Forge this summer. Michael Reynolds and Matthew Angelo received RECONDO badges for achieving scores above the standards, and Heather Weaver graduated in the top 5 percent of her LDAC regiment.
Other FSC cadets who completed the course were Michele Bogle, Wesley Cook, Nancy Glesil, Matthew Leonard, Thomas Loudermilk, William Marler, and Larry Wheatcraft.
“I felt like we were really well prepared,” said Weaver, a senior criminology major who holds the cadet rank of Command Sergeant Major. “We learned more at this school than cadets at other schools. Land navigation is a big thing at LDAC, and there are a lot of failures. I didn’t have any problems.”
Reynolds, a senior criminology major and cadet Sergeant Major, got perfect marks on his land navigation test, which helped him earn the RECONDO badge. He said the ROTC program at FSC gave him the confidence he needed to succeed.
“We have such a tight-knit group. It’s small and we interact a lot with the younger cadets. A lot of the training we do is very hands-on,” he said.
Weaver gave credit to the FSC cadre, the staff of professional Army officers who teach the military science courses and oversee the ROTC program.
“Our cadre is very involved in our battalion. They push the senior cadets to help the younger cadets,” she said.
Maj. Brent Reynolds, executive officer of the cadre, attributes the success of the program to an experienced staff and small class sizes.
“We could set the model for engaged learning. We have very hands-on leadership. Every Wednesday our cadre is teaching the cadets what we brought back from the war zone. We really care about these cadets performing well,” he said.
While seniors in the battalion were spending their summer at LDAC, three younger cadets were overseas participating in an ROTC program that is new to the FSC battalion. The Army’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program sends cadets on three-week duty tours to foreign countries so they can get an understanding and appreciation for other cultures. The program is designed to better prepare cadets to be officers if they are deployed overseas.
From the FSC battalion, Desirae Roberts, a junior biology and pre-veterinary major was sent to Kyrgyzstan; Mackenzie Carlyon, a junior public relations major, went to Tanzania; and Madison Nickell, a junior political science major, was sent to Jordan.
Roberts spent about four hours a day helping with English classes in high schools and libraries. She also spent time sightseeing and learning about Kyrgyzstan, a Southwest Asian nation that is used as a staging base by the military for operations in Afghanistan.
“It was a lot of fun. It helped me with my confidence and taught me to be a better leader,” she said.
Like Roberts, for security reasons, Carlyon was required to wear indigenous clothing and not identify herself as part of an Army program. She was sent to help at a private nursery school, where the 2-to-4-year-olds were learning simple Swahili but spoke no English.
“It was very difficult, but I learned a lot of Swahili. I loved it and want to go back so bad,” she said.
For Nickell, who is studying Arabic and pointing toward a career in military intelligence, her assignment was mostly about language study. She assisted English teachers at the American Language Institute, where the students were Jordanian military officers and air force cadets.
“It really opened my mind to what Middle Eastern culture is like. I thought they’d be very hostile or angry with us, but they weren’t. It dispelled a lot of stereotypes,” she said.