FORT KNOX, Ky. – The Cadets from 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, worked on practical skills during the squad tactical exercise in Fort Knox, Ky., June 17, 2023. The squad tactical exercise, also called STX, is where Cadets are challenged in the field to work together as a squad to practice tactics, firing and maneuvering by teams and reacting to unexpected situations. Cadet Ryan Struss, University of Illinois, enlisted in 2018 as a human intelligence collector and linguist for the Army. “I chose that at the time because it gave me an opportunity to do what I really wanted to do,” […]
FORT KNOX, Ky. – The Cadets from 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, worked on practical skills during the squad tactical exercise in Fort Knox, Ky., June 17, 2023.
The squad tactical exercise, also called STX, is where Cadets are challenged in the field to work together as a squad to practice tactics, firing and maneuvering by teams and reacting to unexpected situations. Cadet Ryan Struss, University of Illinois, enlisted in 2018 as a human intelligence collector and linguist for the Army.
“I chose that at the time because it gave me an opportunity to do what I really wanted to do,” Struss said.
Going through the exercise, Cadets are assigned specific roles and responsibilities and rotate through leadership positions.
Struss acted as a squad leader during this exercise and explained his role, “The squad leader controls the entire element, whereas the team leaders control their respective elements, so a squad is broken up into two tea, but they’re both under the control of the squad leader.”
Struss’ squad of 12 people was broken into two teams of four. They had a separate team who acted as their radio and security support. Each team communicated with each other on how to best maneuver and respond to indirect fires from the enemy during the STX scenario.
Cadet Harrison Chrane, Texas State University, is a 21 year old in the Cadet Summer Training program. Prior to this, Chrane enlisted into the Army National Guard in Texas in 2020. There, he went through basic combat training, advanced individual training, and went to Airborne school.
His education and his desire to serve have been motivating factors to join the military.
“I’ve always wanted to serve my country, and something about that is very patriotic to me, and not a lot of people get to experience and do that,” Chrane said. “Another reason was for school, and I’m doing this in some way to give back to my parents because they were paying for my school.”
Currently, he is studying criminal justice with the hope of joining the department of public safety. In just one year after completing schooling, he will be commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Army.
Similarly, Cadet Laura Duff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, also has a background in the military before CST.
She enlisted at 19 and served as a military police officer for eight years. From there, she had a mission at three different duty stations and then applied for a program called Green to Gold.
“This program provides a way for enlisted people to join the commissioning world,” Duff said. “When I applied, there were over 900 people, and only 400 got it, so I got really lucky.”
She dove right into the military due to financial situation at home.
“My family was really poor, and I couldn’t afford to go to college, and I didn’t feel smart enough to get a scholarship, so I enlisted,” Duff said.
Fortunately, the military gave her the direction to serve and provide for her family.
“I’m a little different than most of the Cadets here,” Duff said. “I’m 27 years old, I’ve been married for five years, and I have a two-year-old daughter that I’m missing right now.”
She has been in the military for eight years and only has a few more weeks until she graduates CST on July 4, 2023.
In order to return home, both Cadets and their team need to complete a few more events including STX. This exercise requires a great deal of communication and collaboration.
“STX is going well, I think most of the Cadets and myself are pretty motivated, Chrane said. “We’re excited to kind of be in the latter half of our training here.”
Because of Duff’s previous experience and having a good team, STX doesn’t present itself as too much of a challenge for her.
“It’s very slow pace, good for refreshing myself with all the stuff that I need to know,” Duff said. “I think overall, our group is really good, and we all talk to each other with very minimal bickering.”
After each training, the Cadets and their instructors conduct an after-action review where they evaluate each other based on how successfully they responded to the scenario. An AAR focuses on what went well and what could be done better next time. On the STX, for example, they discussed how well the leaders reacted to the situation, communicated their intent, and how well the squad responded.
Both Cadet Chrane and Cadet Duff have different upbringings and reasons for joining, but at the end of the day, they both want to be able to provide for and support their loved ones back home.
Lanie Guinn is going into her Junior year of college at Ball State University. She is majoring in Journalism with a concentration in photographic storytelling with a double minor in strategic communication and psychological science. This summer Lanie is interning as a Public Affairs Officer for the CST program. She hopes to learn and continue to build on skills in photography and videography. Outside of school, she is quite the adrenaline junkie who enjoys being outdoors and trying new things.