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ROTC cadets spend weekend practicing in the woods

Photo Courtesy Wesley Roberts

Shots were fired Sunday morning in the woods near the Agricultural Center on West Campus as members of Ohio State’s Reserves Officers’ Training Corps ran through drills. Fortunately, they were just shots from paintball guns.

Members of the ROTC program spent Saturday and Sunday living outside and running drills featuring paintball, capture the flag, rock climbing, navigating GPS and propelling rocks. It was their first chance to apply classroom material in real-life situations.

The weekend was especially important for third-year members, as the drills were their best chance to practice for their collegiate-defining examination in the spring. Camp Atterbury in Indiana is the location for the exam, which includes other cadets from Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati. Tests there are nearly identical to the ones performed this weekend.

“It’s absolutely nothing like a deployment, but it’s as close as you can get,” said Wesley Roberts, a fourth-year ROTC member who works with Adam Baldwin, a fellow fourth-year in the public affairs department of Ohio State’s ROTC. Roberts and Baldwin, who have each spent four years in ROTC, both hope to be assigned under the armor division of the army after graduation.

Members of all classes constantly rotated positions throughout the day, focusing on leadership, as well as taking orders. “It’s more mental than physical as far as growth goes, you need all four years to get the full spectrum” Baldwin said. “We stress leadership, but you also have to know how to follow.”

Ohio State’s ROTC normally consists of physical training three times a week and one leadership lab. The lab gives weekly lessons in military tactics and personal growth. The retreat acted as a culmination of past labs while also strongly emphasizing hands-on experience.

The man in charge of the weekend was Lieutenant Colonel Duncombe, who is the Department Chair of Military Science at Ohio State. Duncombe has served with the United States Army for more than 19 years and has been on multiple military trips, including Iraq
and Somalia.

His main objective was to have his seniors execute the plan, while he supervised it. “We want adaptable, very flexible leaders.” he said. “It’s about how well you plan, then how well you execute the plan.

We certainly try and utilize the skills we teach in class. This is paramount.”

Duncombe sees his program as being equally important in both personal growth as well as physical development on the field of battle. “They’re intertwined,” he said. “They’re receiving a major in their field of study and at the same time can be a leader in any environment at any time.”

“We offer a mentor standpoint as well,” he said.
Baldwin and Roberts both helped evaluate and critique their underclassmen in a number of scenarios. “Communication is huge, it’s huge in how they’re evaluated,” Roberts said.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Baldwin said. “And these four years are a trial period.” 

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