Last Updated: June 27th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY – Cadets with 2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp, are completing the Field Training Exercise: Panther on Fort Knox, June 27, 2024. Field training exercises mimic combat situations and aid Cadets in growing in their leadership skills under pressure. 

“They present us with a mission and we have to treat it like it’s real,” said MacKenna Danielson, 2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp from University of Northern Iowa. “We run it from start to finish, all the way from receiving your fragmentary order, all the way through to mission complete.”

Master Sgt. Charles Lairson, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, said the evaluation of Cadets at their Field Training Exercise focuses on leadership rather than tactical procedures. He encourages Cadets to communicate with one another during the training. 

The Field Training Exercise is a culmination of the skills that Cadets have developed during their time at camp. Now, they begin to put them into play in real-life situations, adding uncontrollable variables like enemy opposition. 

Catherine Hagerty, 2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp from the University of Georgia served as the platoon sergeant during the movement-to-contact exercise. Accountability was essential in her role, as she was responsible for communicating with squad leaders for the counts of all Soldiers, weapons and resources. 

Movement-to-contact is an offensive combat action where platoons encounter an enemy force at an unknown point.  

The Field Training exercise takes place in three phases: Grizzly, Panther and Wolverine. With each phase, Cadets are growing more independent from Cadre and missions are growing in difficulty. 

It is also one of the final training exercises expected of Cadets before their graduation from CST. With the end nearing, many are thinking of their families and support systems back at home. 

“We don’t have any contact with our families at all,” Danielson said. “And it’s 12 straight days, which is just a lot for people.”

Yet, platoons have become family over the weeks at CST. 

At the conclusion of the mission, the platoon gathered together to reflect on what went well and what they could improve on. Cadre emphasized this was not a time to single one another out, but an opportunity to improve. 

“We are still struggling on self discipline,” Hagerty said. “If self discipline isn’t your thing, do it for your buddies. We all want each other to succeed.”

With the Wolverine phase of the Field Training Exercise approaching, Cadets have a final chance to improve and put their knowledge to the test.

About the Author: Kendall Kelly