FORT KNOX, Ky. — Cadets from the 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp, complete their daytime land navigation test on Fort Knox, Ky., July 16, 2023. Land navigation acts as a tool to teach Cadets to maneuver various terrains while locating the intended checkpoints. “We’re taught a couple days before and after our exercises how to use our tools like the protractor and compass and apply them,” said Cadet Kenneth Smith, University of Dayton. “You’ve got options on how to complete this and you find a preference through the practices we do in the coming days.” This exercise pushes Cadets into scenarios that […]
FORT KNOX, Ky. — Cadets from the 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp, complete their daytime land navigation test on Fort Knox, Ky., July 16, 2023.
Land navigation acts as a tool to teach Cadets to maneuver various terrains while locating the intended checkpoints.
“We’re taught a couple days before and after our exercises how to use our tools like the protractor and compass and apply them,” said Cadet Kenneth Smith, University of Dayton. “You’ve got options on how to complete this and you find a preference through the practices we do in the coming days.”
This exercise pushes Cadets into scenarios that require them to think and plan ahead.
“It requires you to think about what you’re doing. You can’t just walk in a direction and guess, you’ve got to figure it out,” said Cadet Steven Powell, Tarleton State University. “Planning out what’s the best way, and how to avoid what’s the worst way. A lot of it is critical thinking skills.”
Land navigation is intended to test Cadets’ resourcefulness and mental fortitude, this exercise helps them to avoid reliance on modern routing tools.
“It’s the generation of technology, there’s all kinds of new gadgets coming out all the time,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to go back to your roots, and use a pen and paper on a map.”
The primary objective of land navigation is to break Cadets down to basics and see where they go.
“You can’t panic, you can’t pause. You can take a breath, that’s about as far you could go,” Smith said. “Especially when we’re at our situational training exercise lanes, they’re going to knock you for pausing. Trust what you believe in. Whatever it is, you’ve got to rock it.”
Just like plotting your course while navigating, many Cadets training experiences are aided by their families. Family is a common reason for Cadets to join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, especially when family members are part of the Armed Forces as well.
“I’ve got family in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. They all made sure I knew it was an option for me. I chose ROTC specifically because it was a way for me to get into college,” Powell said. “I’ve loved it ever since I joined. It’s one of those experiences you can’t ever give up.”
Like Powell, Smith also has a family tie that he decided to follow into the military.
“My grandfather was a paratrooper in Korea. I’ve always looked up to him and spent a lot of time with him,” Smith said. “I’ve always thought about this being what I wanted to do. I felt like it was my time to serve.”
Family guidance goes a long way, working to support and lead Cadets through their toughest days during training.
“A lot of what my family does is give me advice. I don’t have to go into this stuff blindly. I can lean back on them and let them know where I’m struggling, ask when I need help,” Powell said. “It’s great so I can bounce back and forth about ideas so I can really think about what I’m doing. Sure, it’s a family tradition, but they’re there to push me further.”
Finding the path is more than just a training event, it’s an obstacle we must all overcome in our everyday lives. For these Cadets, ROTC provides a guide towards their own objectives.
Smith is currently studying criminal justice and, after graduating from college, he will return to the Army Reserves with dreams of aviation. After retiring from the military, he wants to fulfill his education in criminal justice through a career in federal law enforcement.
“I think I want to stick with it,” Smith said. “I knew the military was for me and I’ve enjoyed it so far. I just want to see where it goes.”
Powell is currently studying construction science and management and hopes to branch toward engineering, joining the Corps of Engineers until leaving the Army. Upon entering the civilian world, he plans to continue working in construction at an administrative level.
“You can be working hard now, work hard in the Army,” Powell said. “Build that strong foundation and it will carry you the rest of your life.”
Sam Mitchell is a senior at Murray State University where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree Journalism/Media Production. He hopes to grow as a videographer, editor, and photographer over the course of this internship. After college, Mitchell hopes to speak for a living, pursuing a career in radio and voiceover. Above all else, he aspires to have fun and truly enjoy whatever kind of situation he finds himself in.