FORT KNOX Ky. – The Cadre of 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, participate in the Observer Coach Trainer Academy to properly distinguish how to assess Cadets going through camp at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Today, the Cadre ran situational training exercises where they conducted an ambush and a react to contact. They switched between leadership for the missions and being evaluators to have a grasp on both ends of the spectrum.

The Observer Coach Trainer Academy is a seven-day school for Cadre to understand how to correctly grade Cadets going through Advanced Camp. During the training, Cadre put themselves in the shoes of the Cadets to develop the right comprehension on what level of professionalism the Cadets have, and how to properly evaluate them. Cadre put themselves in similar situations the Cadets will go through to understand how Cadets think and react.

Cadre for 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, go through an after-action review after a situational training exercise to practice mentoring Cadets during Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Cadre are not only graders but also mentors for the Cadets throughout camp. | Photo by Keaton Silver, University of Mississippi, CST Public Affairs Office

Cadre use a system called blue carding to score Cadets on their leadership capabilities and knowledge. Capt. Nicholas Van Slyke, the patent intern for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has participated in this academy for three years and has had experience blue carding Cadets in the past.

“Our job is to observe events and behaviors,” Van Slyke said. “Once those are observed, we then clarify the intent and meaning behind the Cadets actions.”

After assessing Cadets, Cadre do not necessarily grade on whether a decision is right or wrong, but rather if a Cadet has had a reasonable explanation for a decision they make.

Cadre not only learn how to grade Cadets, but they also learn how to avoid any problems that may arise during a Cadet led mission. Master Sgt. Seth Spang, the miliary science instructor for the junior class at the University of Oklahoma, mentioned how he learned useful information that he did even think about applying before arriving at Fort Knox.

A U.S. Army Cadre for 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, practices filling out a blue card for another Cadre member during a situational training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Understanding the correct format of these scorecards will help the success of these Cadre as they assess Cadets. | Photo by Keaton Silver, University of Mississippi, CST Public Affairs Office

“I think one of the key takeaways from today is to make sure that during their [Cadets] movements, I should stay at a point where I can observe, and I’m not in the middle of causing any issues,” Spang said. “We try to stay away from their formations to let them do their stuff but still within earshot where I can hear what’s going on.”

Spang acted as platoon sergeant during the first exercise today and received firsthand experience on the correct way to handle these types of situations.

Today, Cadre participated in events in the field, which Cadets will be doing the last couple weeks of camp, but that is not all the Cadre do during OCT.

“We ran some marksmanship refreshers, some team building stuff, and classes on how to fill out scorecards and how to run a facilitated AAR [after action review],” Spang said. “We have a great system that are led by OC’s [observer coaches] that are super knowledgeable and professional, making sure we are all on the same page.”

A U.S. Army Cadre for 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, speaks up during an after-action review to talk about flaws that occurred during a situational training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Cadre run through these exercises to gain a better grasp on how to help Cadets succeed during Advanced Camp. | Photo by Keaton Silver, University of Mississippi, CST Public Affairs Office

After the seven-day course is finished, these Cadre will be sent off to facilitate the 3rd Regiment of Advanced Camp Cadets. Cadre are taught not to have personal bias and to grade each Cadet to the same standard. The Observer Coach Trainer Academy prepares Cadre to have the ability to approach every potential Cadet situation in the best possible way.

About the Author: Keaton Silver
Keaton Silver
Keaton Silver is a student at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) majoring in Integrated Marketing & Communications in the school of Journalism and New Media. Silver is originally from San Clemente, California, but now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Silver also happens to be an Army ROTC cadet at Ole Miss., and plans to focus on photojournalism before attending Advanced Camp the second half of the summer.