FORT KNOX, Ky., -Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp completed their Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29, 2023. CBRN is seen as a major obstacle for Cadets to complete their training, and Cadet Keaton Silver, Ole Miss, shares his knowledge from prior experiences with the confidence chamber. “The first time I ever went through the chamber, I thought to myself, “Oh wow this is easy, I’m never going to have a problem with CBRN”. I’d been in one of the earliest groups so I barely felt it,” Silver said. “The next FTX we went on […]
FORT KNOX, Ky., -Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp completed their Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training on Fort Knox, Ky., July 29, 2023. CBRN is seen as a major obstacle for Cadets to complete their training, and Cadet Keaton Silver, Ole Miss, shares his knowledge from prior experiences with the confidence chamber.
“The first time I ever went through the chamber, I thought to myself, “Oh wow this is easy, I’m never going to have a problem with CBRN”. I’d been in one of the earliest groups so I barely felt it,” Silver said. “The next FTX we went on I was last. I really felt the pain that everyone had told me about.”
Before arriving at Cadet Summer Training, Silver had gone through the confidence chamber on three separate occasions due to his home program requiring it during field training exercises.
“Back at Ole Miss, our old professor of military science was a chemical officer. So, every field training exercise we went on, he would incorporate the confidence chamber in one way or another,” Silver said. “He did it so we could be well prepared for Advanced Camp, to make it seem like we were more professional when we got to the chamber.”
CBRN training exists to educate Cadets on how to properly react in the case of any CBRN-related attack. It allows Cadets to learn how to use and build trust in their issued equipment, ending with them going through the chamber and removing their masks.
“Today was pretty rough. My squad was the last squad in the company to go through so all of the gas that was built up and all of the used tablets from previous squads kept building and building until it was our turn,” Silver said. “It was definitely more painful for us, but you know what? We embraced the suck and had a fun time doing it.”
Whether it’s feeling the burn in the confidence chamber or completing a 12-mile ruck march in the dead of night, being able to “embrace the suck” is a big part of what brings Cadets together the most.
“The moment I walked in, I felt a massive burning sensation on my neck. The further we were inside, I thought to myself, ‘Only a few more minutes, I’m going to get through it’,” Silver said. “I looked to my left and my right; everyone was hurting. But here, we all hurt together, we all succeed together.”
Beyond simply removing their masks, Cadets face several challenges within their own heads that they must let go of to learn the lessons taught by the confidence chamber.
“The nerves are what get you. You see all these other groups come out, flapping their arms and looking miserable with snot rolling down their faces,” Silver said. “Once you go through the front door and feel the burning sensation on your skin, you know that you’re about to take off your mask and feel everything.”
CBRN is the kind of experience that can make Cadets think hard about why they wanted to go through it in the first place.
“Originally, I joined [Army] Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to have a purpose. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Silver said. “I wanted a reason to go to college and stay on top of my stuff. I knew if I joined ROTC it would be very structured.”
After finding his reason, Silver has been lucky to find lots of people who make the hard days easier.
“There have been tough times, but all of these people are really special. Everyone I’ve met at Advanced Camp has been really special. It’s all about working together at the end of the day,” Silver said. “I’m really excited to be a leader when we go out into the field in a couple of days. I want to prepare myself for being in the Army next May after I commission.”
Like many other Cadets, Silver sees the people he works alongside as the highlight of CST.
“The advice that I would give is that you’ve just got to deal with it, roll with the punches. Accept everything you’re going to go through at Advanced Camp. Everything is going to be fun. Yes, you will be tired at times,” Silver said. “You’ll all be together for 35 days. It’s all about being together and building each other up during our time here. We all want to say we’re miserable, but at the end of the day we’re laughing and smiling together.”
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.