Field Training Exercises

Every semester the Golden Eagle Battalion travels to Fort McCoy, Wis. for the weekend to conduct training exercises. Fort McCoy has outstanding facilities, and ROTC cadets are afforded opportunities to do weapons qualification and simulators, land navigation training, and situational training exercises along with numerous other events.

Spring FTX at Fort McCoy

Golden Eagle Battalion Cadets and Cadre travel to Fort McCoy, Wis. in spring to conduct a field training exercise (FTX). The focus of this training is tactical squad and platoon level situational training exercises, or STX lanes, where Cadets can practice their leadership in a simulated tactical environment. Cadets also conducted training in land navigation, a field leader's reaction course (FLRC), weapons familiarization training, field craft, and a 4 mile tactical road march.

Past Field Training Exercises (Photos)

Training Exercises Reflections

Basic Rifle Marksmanship

This year, the Golden Eagle Battalion was able to extend its Spring Field Training Exercise into three days instead of the traditional two days in order to incorporate more training for the Cadets. The battalion began preparing for the extended weekend weeks ahead of time, with Pre-Combat Inspections and Pre-Combat Checks that ensured all Cadets had all the materials they needed for the weekend. Well ahead of time, the Cadets were aware of the weekend’s individual training events and what to expect in terms of assigned leadership. This assigned leadership was a crucial part of the entire weekend and allowed a majority of Cadets, juniors, sophomores and even some freshmen to get a chance leading not only their teams of four people or squads of about ten, but also platoons with more than 20 Cadets total.

Friday began early with a departure from Marquette at six in the morning to ensure a timely arrival at Fort McCoy, near LaCrosse, Wis. The majority of Friday was spent training with the M-16 rifle on firing ranges. First, the Cadets were able to “zero” their weapons, which allows them to adjust all of the sight pictures to fit them each personally. Once the Cadets were zeroed, they travelled to the record fire range.

The record fire range was a pop-up target range that was able to test each Cadet on their basic rifle marksmanship. During the record fire, Cadets are given 20 rounds for their weapon in order to familiarize themselves with pop-up targets down range. They are also given the additional 40 rounds which will be used to essentially “grade” their record fire.

Out of 40 possible pop-up targets that the Cadets tried to shoot, twenty of them were shot while in the prone position while supported, 10 were shot while in the prone position unsupported and the final 10 shots were in kneeling position.

In order to qualify, Cadets had to hit at least 23 targets out of the 40 that popped up on the range.

After all Cadets were given a chance to qualify on the record fire range, the juniors split apart from the underclassmen. While the juniors did night land navigation in order to prepare themselves for the Leadership and Development Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Wash. this summer, the underclassmen got together in their squads to go over necessary squad standard operating procedures for the next day’s training.

The next day began early for all Cadets and once again, the juniors were split from the underclassmen, as they would be the rest of the weekend. While the juniors conducted day land navigation and squad situational training exercises, the underclassmen spent the entirety of the day doing six situational training exercises in their squads of about 10 Cadets.

These STX lanes (as they are called) prepare Cadets not only for basic battle techniques and tactics, but also allow Cadets to develop their leadership skills as they are put in positions such as squad leader or team leader.

Saturday night ended with a trip to the DFAC for a warm dinner and then weapons cleaning back at the barracks. On Sunday morning, the juniors departed early yet again to do a patrol STX lane. This differs from a squad level STX lane in that the size of the element is doubled. Instead of 10 Cadets, there are now about 20. At the same time, the underclassmen were at a different training location doing the Field Leadership Reaction Course, which can be compared somewhat to an obstacle course. Underclassmen were given leadership positions and had to develop a plan on how to get past each obstacle using their squad members.

Overall, the weekend was a success. A majority of the Cadets were able to qualify on the M-16, all Cadets were familiarized with basic battle techniques and most importantly, the Cadets were able to have fun, even if they were away from campus.

FTX Reflection 2009

The weekend we spent at Ft McCoy for our spring FTX was one of the most interesting and informative events I have ever experienced. When my squad headed out for our first STX lane of the day on Saturday, I was laying in 360 security with a full bladder for I don't remember how long, and I thought, "Great, I see how this weekend is gonna be." Soon however, all the feelings of doubt were washed away as we conducted an exhilarating and successful ambush.

The pinnacle of the FTX, though, was the MOUT raid we performed on the fake village. I've never been in a more chaotic situation than when we were running around that village, "taking fire," and clearing out rooms. In spite of all the chaos, the leadership did an excellent job at maintaining control, and keeping the operation flowing. The last event, the FLRC, really proved how well my squad had bonded over the past few days. The event is designed to test leadership as well as team work; both of which I think we excelled at.

The TACS did a great job at making sure everybody in their squads got a leadership position, and the general organization of the FTX was very impressive. For this, I know everybody in the battalion is very thankful of the MS IVs and IIIs that spent so much time planning and executing the weekend. If I had to mention the most important thing I learned on the FTX it would be this: you can learn these battle drills in a classroom environment; however, you grasp them so much better when they are applied in a more realistic situation.

Fall FTX 2007 Reflection

Cadets develop basic tactical, confidence and leadership skills at Fall Field Training Exercise
By: CDT Karen Berardi

The 60-foot rappel tower at Fort McCoy near Sparta, Wisconsin has always intimidated Cadets upon first sight. In comparison to the 17-foot practice tower and the 37-foot tower that stands beside it, the tallest of the three looms over those who enter the site. Many, especially those afraid of heights, gaze up at the top, weary of their fate when they are made to come down on a rope harness they make themselves.

“I wish I could have gone again,” freshmen Kyle Cooke said after reaching the bottom and being told to hand off his “Swiss seat” or hand-made harness to another Cadet.

Cook, along with more than 100 other Cadets and over 20 Marine midshipmen, was able to rappel and learn other basic Army skills at this fall’s field training exercise (FTX) on September 21 to 23, 2007. The FTX consisted of training in day and night land navigation, hand grenades, rope bridges and finally, rappelling.

The training exercise began Friday afternoon when the battalion departed in charter buses and arrived at Fort McCoy in the early evening. That night, the underclassmen and upperclassmen were split up. The underclassmen spent the evening learning more in-depth land navigation techniques and becoming familiar with land navigation at night using only a red-lens flashlight, compass and map. At the same time, the upperclassmen were challenged in a night land navigation course in which students were divided up by pairs, given a distance and direction and made to find four wooden stakes or points in the woods.

After all training was complete for the evening, the battalion was able to enjoy sleeping indoors in Fort McCoy temporary barracks.

On Saturday, the students were tested on their land navigation skills in a day land navigation practical course. Freshmen and weaker Cadets paired up, while everyone else went out on their own. Students were also given the chance to qualify on a hand grenade assault course in which they were tested on the correct form to throw grenades and identification of different types and classifications of grenades.

After a long day of training, Cadets were awarded with a cookout of hotdogs and hamburgers, just before setting out again for the night land navigation practical course, a shorter, yet more difficult course due to the lack of visibility.

For many, it was Sunday that was the most exciting. While the juniors got a head start on battle drill tactics by practicing a situational exercise lane, the underclassmen were able to become familiarized in rappelling and crossing a river/stream using a rope bridge.

After departing shortly after noon, the battalion was able to get back to their books and studies early Sunday night.

But for many, especially the new freshmen, the weekend was a memorable one.