Video by Katie Catterall

FORT KNOX, Ky. – During Cadet Summer Training, the 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp Cadets took the land navigation practical exam in Fort Knox, Ky., June 11, 2023, to teach them how to use a map, compass, and other techniques to navigate through various terrains and locate specific pinpoints.

Cadet Antonio De Marco, Northern Illinois University, takes notes before starting the land navigation practical exam during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., June 11, 2023. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

The land navigation practical exam is a single attempt event, in which Cadets must locate at least three of the four grid coordinates within a four-hour time period. Before the exam, Cadets are shown a large, three-dimensional terrain model of the surrounding area, and they are given a map, compass, protractor, and a pace count to complete the exam.

The protractor allowed Cadets to draw angles and mark on their map where the grid coordinates are supposed to be, and the pace count tells them how many steps it takes to travel 100 meters. Cadets use this pace count, the angles they draw on their map, and a compass to figure out the distance and direction of the given grid coordinates.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Frank Rorie, Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 414th Infantry Regiment, hoped that Cadets remember the importance of these land navigational skills, especially in the cases where electronics may not be dependable.

“I want [Cadets] to take away that they’re more capable than they think they are, especially with using electronics as a crutch,” said Rorie. “A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually do a lot of the stuff that computers, phones and devices can do.”

Cadet Austin White, Grand Canyon University, studies his map during the land navigation practical exam for Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., June 11, 2023. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

Cadet John Massengale from Rochester Institute of Technology arrived at the land navigation practical exam with confidence because of his prior experience through his university. He found all four grid coordinates and finished the practical exam within an hour and a half.

When asked what advice he has for incoming Cadets, Massengale advised them to not be nervous and trust themselves.

“If you verify your compass here, and you verify your pace count; trust both of those, because the map, roads, and trails were not 100%,” said Massengale. “But if you go off your pace count and checkpoints, you will find all of your points.”

About the Author: Madelyn Guinn
Madelyn Guinn
Madelyn Guinn is a CST PAO intern from Martinsville, Indiana that graduated from Ball State University in 2023 with a Photojournalism Major and Sociology Minor. Guinn first fell in love with photography in 2015 when they began taking photos for their high school yearbook and has always favored sports and action photography. While interning at Fort Knox, KY this summer, Guinn is eager to gain experience with military action photography and hopes to expand her knowledge on more videography work by the end of this internship.