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Morning Sun
  • PSU ROTC flies in for training mission

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    South of Pittsburg, a battle took place Thursday.

     



    Helicopters dropped a company of soldiers in a pasture, where they secured the area, gathered intelligence and were faced with enemy fire.

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    South of Pittsburg, a battle took place Thursday.

    Helicopters dropped a company of soldiers in a pasture, where they secured the area, gathered intelligence and were faced with enemy fire.

    The mission was a learning experience for  Gorilla Battalion ROTC cadets, and juniors led the freshmen and sophomore cadets in the mission as seniors portrayed opposition forces.

    The Kansas National Guard’s 108th Aviation Battalion out of Topeka sent three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, and cadets practiced boarding a running helicopter.

    They then were flown to the Plagens Conservation Area and exited the running helicopters as part of the operation.

    Cadet Mikaila Barbour was one of the juniors in charge of the operation and said they were given control of how the mission was carried out.

    “That’s the cool part,” she said “We don’t often get to do this type of lab.”

    Meanwhile, the seniors set up improvised explosive devices and other traps in the field as a means of testing the leadership of the juniors and seeing how they react to stressful situations such as losing troops.

    “What we’re going to have is the seniors are going to be back in here,” said Cadet Captain Jacob Bruning, who helped set up the area as part of the opposition.

    Once the operation began, the troops made their ways through the field and crossed the fence. They ran into a firefight at a creekbed and ended up with troops down, as evidenced by the large splotches left by paintball bullets.

    While many cadets said the day is enjoyable, it also is a valuable opportunity for learning.

    At the end, they conducted an After Action Review.

    “They’re going to talk about what they did, what went right, what went wrong and how to fix it,” said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Lambert, who is Pittsburg State University’s Professor of Military Science.

    He said any training event where lessons are learned can be considered successful.

    Page 2 of 2 - “They moved pretty well considering,” he said.

    This also was many students’ first opportunity to practice moving as part of a company, with about 60 troops.

    “It’s really about can they handle a more complex problem and control the movement,” Lambert said.

    He said tests included seeing how well each junior commanded and controlled their elements, the challenge of reacting to an IED, figuring out communication and facing the skirmish lines.

    Hayden Compton, a freshman at PSU, said he had been involved in other exercises, but nothing this big.

    “It was awesome,” he said. “It was a great experience. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s supposed to be a learning event.”

    Cadet Nick Grabowski said he was the company commander for the day’s operation, which included some helicopter delays.

    “I thought it went pretty well considering all the delays we had,” Grabowski said.

    He said the delays prompted questions about whether the plan should change, and he insisted on sticking with the original plan, which turned out to be a good decision in the end.

    In addition, Grabowski said the opportunity to be in command and see the bigger picture helped to bring together much of the things he has learned through the program.

    “It helps everybody realize there is a bigger picture,” he said. “Everything is starting to make a lot more sense because of the way they explain everything.”
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