BY MATT VAN WAGENEN
Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 successfully completed its Field Training Exercise on March 30-April 1.
Detachment 730, which is based at the University of Pittsburgh, hosts cadets from Pitt and a number of cross-town schools, including Franciscan University. Franciscan has two upper classmen cadets in the program, Elizabeth Walker and Julie St. George, as well as three underclassmen, Joseph Schlueter, Joseph Folse, and Matthew Van Wagenen.
The weekend began with a briefing at 1600 (4 p.m.) at the Cathedral of Learning in Pitt on Friday. Cadet Walker was responsible for a large part of the planning and execution of the important training exercise.
"This year's FTX was a big success!" said Walker. "The weekend provided useful learning experiences for the freshmen and sophomores, preparing them for Field Training. Also, the POC cadets exceeded my expectations with their leadership skills and their ability to teach the GMC what they needed to know."
The upper classmen, enrolled in the Professional Officer Course program, are responsible for the training and preparation of the underclassmen enrolled in the General Military Course program for Field Training. Completion of Field Training is required to move from the GMC years to the POC years, and ultimately gain commissioning as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
After the briefing, cadets were bused from Pitt to Camp Dawson, a West Virginia National Guard installment. They were immediately immersed into a high-stress, high intensity environment to test their skill set as well as their ability to perform under pressure.
On Saturday, cadets were woken from their slumber at 0445 and transited to the camp's runway, where they performed physical training as a cadet wing. The rest of the day was filled with dormitory maintenance, leadership challenges, obstacle courses, security forces training, medical briefings, and Improvised Explosive Device (IED)/Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) training.
Much of Saturday's training was to be utilized on Sunday. The GMC cadets had a simulated mission to accomplish. An American pilot was shot down and needed to be extracted, and there was a faction leader in the city that the cadets were to gather information on if possible.
The culmination of the weekend came mid-morning. The cadets were broken into three squadrons, and each squadron was broken into two flights, which were used as fire support teams. The six flights entered the "city", a designated training facility set up to mimic a potential environment that soldiers would encounter.
The various fire support teams were required to approach the buildings, encountering simulated locals as well as militants. These persons were played by the POC cadets, who dressed, spoke and acted as members of the simulated middle-eastern culture.
After numerous buildings had been cleared, hostiles neutralized and the pilot retrieved, the mission was over, and FTX weekend had drawn to a close.
"It was definitely a great learning experience," said Cadet Schlueter. "...Especially for myself and the other cadets who are preparing to go to Field Training this summer. Although it was a tough weekend, I enjoyed it as did many of my fellow cadets. We learned a lot and it will surely help us in our training this summer."