ROTC takes first in national assessment

Braden Linick

NMU’s Reserve Officer Training Course (ROTC) battled through a number of different obstacles, outscoring all other teams in the nation in the Leadership Development and Assessment Course over the past few weeks in Fort Lewis, Wash.

The Leadership Development and Assessment Course is the largest annual training event the United States hosts. It’s also seen by some as the pinnacle of preparatory events for an Army ROTC Cadet.

Most cadets spend three years preparing for the physical and mental challenges the course contains.

“Only having two returning cadets with experience made me nervous, but after working and spending a lot of time with the ladies I knew we were going to be a good team,” Women’s Team Captain, Cadet Ashley Collier said. “Everyone put in so much time and effort throughout training it made me as captain very proud to have such a great group of girls to work with.”

The course began June 1 and ended August 11, but each team only participated for 29 of those days. There were 5,000 Army ROTC Cadets from 273 universities nationwide participating.

The NMU cadets continued to meet and exceed course standards in all formal evaluations, which were graded by a U.S. Army certified board.

They were also graded by peer competitors and received the highest possible evaluations for the entire event.

“We sent seven cadets who competed with over 5,000 other cadets,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Rambo. “As a group, they outperformed all other universities.

“I will also compliment the instructors who put as much hard work in to make sure the cadets manage this.”

According to Rambo, some of the evaluations the cadets faced tested areas such as army physical fitness, leadership skills, ability to work as a team, being a good follower, knowledge of military tactics, knowledge of field craft (survival in the wild) and more.

“These cadets were in Washington for over a month and certainly didn’t get much time to sleep,” Rambo said. “They averaged about four hours of sleep per day.”

The NMU Cadets also competed in the Ranger Challenge competition on October 6 to 7 in Fort McCoy, Wis., with the women’s team bringing home first place and the men’s taking a close second.

The competition consisted of 23 teams that were scored in 10 events. The cadets were thrown into the land navigation day and night in a 48-hour event, and then given many different types of tasks to evaluate themselves.

“Ranger Challenge is my favorite time of year. During the competition and training I may hate it, but coming out on top with a first place is more than worth all the early mornings and bumps and bruises,” Collier said. “I didn’t have a lot of hopes this year having a new team and all, but now I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”

According to Rambo, the maintenance challenge included moving a disabled vehicle across a field. The medical challenge consisted of treating a casualty and helping them up a steep mountain, then requesting a med evacuation.

In the weapons challenge, cadets had to shoot, assemble and disassemble weapons. Other challenges included the task of crossing a river by using a rope as a bridge and carrying all their gear across with them.

After scoring so well in the Ranger Challenge competition, the cadets will go on to face 40 universities from all over the Midwest that have won competitions similar to this one.

Rambo trains with the cadets daily and is pleased with their placement in both competitions. He believes they went above and beyond everyone’s expectations for what’s required of a cadet.