FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets in 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, rotate through eight stations during their warrior skills training at the Richardson Training Area, June 14, 2023. The eight stations at warrior skills training includes: hand grenades, claymore mines, troop leading procedures, range cards, route planning, direct fire planning, rehearsal types and linear danger area. 

Cadets, 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, set up a claymore mine at the Richardson Training Area in Fort Knox, Ky. June 14, 2023. Warrior skills training familiarizes Cadets with hand grenades, claymore mines, direct fire planning and leader’s recon as they progress through Cadet Summer Training. | Hydia Jackson, Western Kentucky University, CST Public Affairs Office

A key objective for Cadets during warrior skills training is to become accustomed with combat environments and weapons. Cadets wear protective gear such as gloves, eye protection and advanced combat helmets to ensure safety during each mission.

During Cadet Summer Training, the drills that Cadets complete goes beyond simply simulating battle locations and circumstances. It is also about the bonds they develop with the other Cadets.

“I would definitely say my fellow Cadets are a huge motivation. Our platoon, second platoon, has bonded really, really well. Each squad gets together and gets along together, as well,” said Cadet Alexandra Thern from Texas A&M University.

The Cadets ability to work together cohesively does not go unnoticed by their Cadre leaders. The motivation and boost in morale that comes from Cadets as they work through training encourages their squads to push through when training gets hard. 

“I’m seeing a lot of camaraderie, and there are like a lot of people that are happy. And definitely unit cohesion,” said Sgt. Tre Archuoeta, Cadre leader. “They work together really well. Just like any unit in the military, the more familiar you are with your people, the more comfortable you are with them, [and] the more you’re going to trust them. So, I believe that if they trust each other, they’re gonna go, and they’re gonna to get the training done and a lot more efficiently.”

“When someone does start to get into a cycle, another person is always pretty quick to pull them out of it and be like, ‘Hey, man, chin up keep going,’ said Thern. We’re super goofy. Almost to the point that it annoys our Cadre sometimes, but it keeps everybody on high spirits, and we’re always cracking jokes and stuff. I’m super thankful that we have people that are able to continue to keep everyone’s spirit up.”

“My platoon is like the thing that really motivates me, and they become your best friends even after five days,” said Cadet Maryanne Holt, from The College of Charleston during the hand grenade station. “You’ll know everyone’s name and their backstory and even days when you’re tired because we had three hours of sleep from night land navigation. They’re the people that keep you going and wake me up in the morning. So we had the morning with good energy, and we’re all excited to do the lanes today.”

Much of the training that Cadets received during warrior skills comprised of procedures that Cadets must follow in order to build upon the abilities they have learned throughout their time at CST.

1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, Cadet prepares to throw hand grenade at pop-up target at the Richardson training area in Fort Knox, Ky. June 14, 2023. Cadre leaders coach Cadets through the steps of throwing a hand grenade. | Hydia Jackson, Western Kentucky University, CST Public Affairs Office

“I did feel some pressure out there today because sometimes a lot of it can be very segmented,” said Holt. “When you’re able to implement it versus thinking of all the steps in your head, sometimes, it needs to be condensed really fast. You’ll skip a step, but most of the time, it always ends up getting done and you know, without any type of mistake.”

After completing warrior skills, Cadets will move to Wolverine where they will handle live-fire arms.

“I would tell a Cadet that’s nervous to take a deep breath,” said Sgt. Tanner McDavid, Cadre leader. “That’s the best thing I can tell you because everyone gets nervous, including myself. So, sometimes, you just gotta step back and think about what you’re doing, and then, you’ll remember and go through.”

About the Author: Hydia Jackson
Hydia Jackson
Hydia Jackson is a photojournalism student at Western Kentucky University. She has experience working at WKU student publications, covering marketing and campus life. Moving forward, Jackson wishes to gain more experience in editorial work. Jackson is passionate about meeting new people and finding creative ways to tell their stories. As a public affairs intern for Cadet Summer Training, she hopes to expand her knowledge on the world of storytelling.