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Beast Barracks 2000
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Fourth of July
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Cadet Basic Training
Here is an article that was sent out by the AOG (Assoc. of Graduates) to some of the West Point Class list servers last year which gives a little perspective on CBT.
In the sweltering West Point summer the new cadets will be sweating and crawling through the dirt; enduring long road marches, damp, smelly uniforms, and dusty ranges; staying awake through another briefing; and trying to get a shine on their porous new shoes. While the new cadets are miserably oblivious to the big picture, the Commandant and the cadet cadre will be focusing on their mission: "to train, instruct, and inspire new cadets in order to transition them from civilians to soldiers, to begin to inculcate the values necessary to develop leaders of character strongly committed to military service, and to provide a powerful leadership experience for the upper class cadets."
CBT may have officially started on June 28th, but according to Major Ronald Williams, the CBT operations officer, many cadets were working long before then to make it a "tremendous training event for both the cadre and new cadets." During graduation week, the cadet cadre (the 1st class are first sergeants, platoon leaders, company commanders, primary regimental staff and the regimental commander and the 2nd class are platoon sergeants, squad leaders and secondary staff) conducted a "mini CBT" to train on tasks such as staff development and training management. They also had a 10 day train the trainer session right before Beast started.
Beast begins with committee training including first aid, NBC and mountaineering. Next is the warrior competition where each squad will have to accomplish difficult tasks that require teamwork such as climbing a ten-foot wall and pushing a heavy log. And of course, it wouldn't be Beast without basic rifle marksmanship, individual and squad tactics and hand grenade and rifle bayonet training. Bayonet training will bring out the warrior in the new cadets, especially if it's anything like what my class went through in the summer of '83. "The purpose of the bayonet is to KILL! BLOOD makes the grass grow!" we yelled until our throats were raw as we negotiated the bayonet assault course obstructed by the biggest and meanest firsties.
All of this training culminates in "Operation Warrior Forge," a 24 hour exercise beginning with a 12 mile road march to Lake Frederick. There, for the first time, new cadets will be put in leadership positions. Squads will be required to negotiate terrain and go through stations such as crossing a river, a minefield, and a rope bridge and taking out a bunker. This is followed by squad on squad attacks, establishing a patrol base and then a forced march and swim across Lake Frederick. Another traditional Beast training event is the leader reaction course where new cadets are given an odd assortment of materials and, with ingenuity and teamwork, use them to overcome obstacles. When the 4th class have completed all this training they will undergo individual proficiency testing: an evaluation of what they have learned during CBT. New cadets must achieve a passing score of 80%. Those who don't will receive remedial training and will then be retested.
Beast is not totally all work and no play, at the end of their training at Lake Frederick, the new cadets get to enjoy an organization day and talent show before they march 15 miles back to West Point. At this point, the new cadets will have made their transition from civilians to soldiers. "Those that complete CBT can be proud of themselves and their accomplishments," said Major Williams, and he should know. Mission Accomplished!
submitted by Larry Schlanser
Reflections on Operation Warrior Forge
12 August 2000 - A Company, Cadet Basic Training (CBT).
0530 - We wake up after a night of hard rain at Lake Frederick. Today is the big day - Warrior Forge.
0800 - We upload ammunition before being trucked to our first site. There we quickly conduct a 75 foot rappel.
0845 - After the rappel, we're following a 10th Mountain soldier up a steep trail to the top of Black Cap Mountain. We encounter a sniper and take artillery. My squad mate is 'dead'. Being the closest, I put her over my shoulder and carry her as we move away from the simulators. We stop, and someone yells out, "Gas, gas, gas". I put my mask on (I'm usually pretty good at it but this time it takes me forever), pick up my fallen comrade and move out. I rejoice when she is finally declared alive again. Then we make contact with the enemy. The squad leader has us bound to the left in our promasks. We flank around and catch the enemy squad moving up on us. We fire from our position and the Observer Controller (OC) declares all four of them dead. Wow! During our After Action Review, our ranger qualified OC says, " War gets chaotic sometimes." No doubt.
0945 - Our next site is first aid. We improvise a litter out of weapon slings and ponchos and carry a squad member half a mile through the woods.
1030 - We patrol to the top of White Cap Mountain and set up a squad ambush. We are almost finished when the Opposing Force (OPFOR) walks through. Initiating the ambush, we kill the two enemy anyway and our OC compliments us on staying cool. He says no plan ever survives first contact.
1150 - At the bottom of White Cap mountain, we set up a patrol base for lunch. Half of us eat while half pull security in the prone and then we switch.
1240 - Our recon of the enemy site is successful. We report the information to higher and move out again in squad column formation.
1330 - A mile later we arrive at the one rope bridge site. We build a rope bridge across a ravine and move the squad across. From there, we execute the Humvee push. We end up with the Humvee stuck in the mud, unable to free it, ten feet from the finish line.
1500 - The next event is the three rope bridge. I volunteer to go first and am able to get across without much trouble, along with two others. Unfortunately, the rest of the squad seems to end up on the bridge at the same time and the momentum gets too great, dumping them all into Scum Pond.
1530 - Our next event is close by - the minefield litter carry - in promask again. I end up helping to carry another squad mate on a stretcher through some unbelievable mud holes. He's heavy and I'm glad when we reach the end.
1630 - Our next two events have us make contact with the enemy, sweep through the objective, and secure it. From there, we climb a cliff to the top of this mountain and mask up again. This time its just to see if we can do it within the allotted nine seconds. From there, we move to Lake Georgina and another one rope bridge.
1830 - At Lake Georgina, we are required to pull ourselves across the water attached to a single rope bridge. We get wet, of course!
1915 - A short walk leads us to Bull Pond, where we paddle an RB-15 assault boat across the water. After landing, we link up with a guide who leads us through the woods to find an enemy squad. Suddenly we stop - the point man sees the enemy. The squad leader flanks Bravo team around to the right flank as I look hard for the enemy. My movement gives us away and the enemy shoots in our direction. We return fire quickly and kill him. Bravo team arrives to his flank and clears the objective. We move out quickly for about two miles and link up with our platoon. It is dark now, and we secure our rucks from the rally point and move to the patrol base.
2200 - The patrol base is secured deep in the woods. We take turns pulling security and change out of our wet clothes. Then we take turns eating cold MREs. In the middle of eating, the enemy hits us. My cadet platoon leader tells the few of us eating to put it away and go to 100% security. Rats! Its 0030 before we are all finished eating. Now he says we can take turns getting some sleep. Wake up is at 0300. We get hit several more times, so 0300 seems far away.
13 August 2000
0300 - We start off on our march to Lake Frederick. Its only a few miles, and we get there by 0500. By 0530 we are ready to swim Lake Frederick. It only takes us 15 minutes to cross, but it seems like forever in the water. Our Cadet LT is swimming with us and congratulates us at the end for finishing Warrior Forge. A Major with a digital camera takes our picture, and we are done. As far as Warrior Forge is concerned, I think our Squad Leader picked a great motto - "Talk is Cheap!"
Author's Note - Warrior Forge is a twenty four hour, 16 event exercise that is the final field problem of Cadet Basic Training.
Jackie (Kalata) Whiteside '93
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