The UNC Army ROTC will be trading quad-sitting in front of Wilson Library for early mornings and late nights roughing it in the woods and getting real tactical and field experience at Fort Bragg in April.
The Army ROTC’s Combined Field Training Exercise will take place from April 5 to 7, and it is a joint effort coordinated by senior cadets from five different schools’ ROTC programs: UNC, Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and Saint Augustine’s University.
Jake DiMartinis, a senior at UNC and the Army ROTC battalion commander, will be an evaluator at the exercise. He said its purpose is to prepare juniors especially for Advance Camp, a roughly month-long training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, between the cadets’ junior and senior year.
“When you’re at Fort Knox, you’re going to be with cadets from colleges across the country,” DiMartinis said. “You’re gonna be with people you don’t know, and you’re going to have to lead people you don’t know, and be under people you don’t know and work alongside people you don't know.”
Lt. Col. Daniel Snow, chairperson and professor of the Department of Military Science, said he looks forward to seeing UNC’s Army ROTC program go above and beyond in the exercise.
“I am fully confident the Tar Heel Cadets will perform exceptionally well, and I expect their actions will inspire and influence others to achieve more,” Snow said in a statement to the Daily Tar Heel. “I am very proud of these truly remarkable students, and this exercise will once again demonstrate the profound character, competence and commitment that sets them apart.”
Lt. Col. Anthony Forshier, a professor of military science at UNC, said the cadets will be focusing on using platoon equipment in the field and doing exercises in combat, ambush, raid and reconnaissance. Juniors will be separated from first-years and sophomores on the second day, and they will receive training on rifle marksmanship, a skill that they will be tested on at Advance Camp. First-years and sophomores will be put in charge of platoons where they will plan and execute operations, Forshier said.
There are 62 members of UNC’s Army ROTC, Forshier said, and there are about 40 members in a platoon, so this experience will challenge cadets to navigate cooperating with a large number of people.
“It’s going to be fun; safety (is) number one,” Forshier said. “...We’re doing our best to ensure that the students that do go are being communicative with the University, so they know 'Hey, these folks are going to be gone. They’re not just slacking off for the weekend.'”
Since ROTC goes on this trip only once a year, first-year Doug Reinisch has never gone to this training exercise before. He said he is looking forward to getting more hands-on experience with tactical weapons and developing his skills with a platoon.
“We get experience here, on campus, but it’s not the same as going away for the entire weekend to a training environment like Fort Bragg,” Reinisch said.
Olivia Di Ruzza, a sophomore cadet participating in the exercise, said UNC’s ROTC program has given her a lot of advantages. She said being in the Army ROTC has made her disciplined and given her the ability to manage her time well.
“I’m definitely mentally and physically stronger, so I am able to withstand a lot more stress than most college students, I'd say,” she said.
While the exercise does not have as many real-life consequences as the Advance Training that juniors will receive over the summer, UNC’s Army ROTC program is still committed to representing its university well, Reinisch said. And even in the Army, one certain rivalry still stands.
“We have a lot pride in the Tar Heel battalion. When we are in formation and are called to attention, we respond collectively with ‘Go Heels!’ so we’re instinctually Tar Heels,” Reinisch said. “We’re definitely going to want to put UNC ahead of Duke and the other schools.”
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