Education

Seneca Battalion ROTC Conducts Annual Fall Field Training Exercise at Houghton College

d6aea2620b98d491e618_dfecebfd8697244be388_KLE_Fire__1_.jpg
Two cadets conduct a Key Leader Engagement with the village's imam during training on Saturday. A KLE is an important and difficult mission that U.S. forces have to conduct overseas.
945ce6d3ecd233d52628_929307c397e9be36dd08_Image-1.jpg__1_.jpeg
A cadet briefs cadre members of their mission in the Tactical Operations Center, or TOC, before going out on mission Saturday night. Credits: Seneca Battalion
2766e2964f39b577d894_eafb82422d7bd4d8aa71_Buddy_Rush_2.jpg
Cadets cover each other as they bound up toward their objectives.
3236aa29dd59a75f79ad_fdc3ae491faf7abbd59c_edf1e92f7d7488204874_Image.jpg.jpeg
Cadet Breandan Cunningham provides security for his squad members while they conduct a map check.
3260407f945ab11a8cd9_c2a847ed6ffce5a9cf00_KLE_1.jpg
Squad members speak with villagers during their KLE mission.
d6aea2620b98d491e618_dfecebfd8697244be388_KLE_Fire__1_.jpg

HOUGHTON, NY – As the Army says: “If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’.”

During the third full weekend of October, Seneca Battalion ROTC conducted its annual fall FTX or Field Training Exercise at Houghton College, where cadets spent the weekend in nearly freezing temperatures and a heavy Friday night rainfall training to be combat leaders on the battlefield. Unlike previous years, when the FTX was held at St. Bonaventure University, this one was held in a remote area with treacherous terrain, adding to the complexity of the missions cadets undertook as part of training.

“This weekend was all about challenging the cadets,” said Lt. Col. Sean Coulter, professor of military science at St. Bonaventure University and commander of Seneca Battalion ROTC. “The terrain was challenging.  The weather was challenging.  The missions they went on were challenging. Some of these cadets had to work with others they had never met before. Training in that kind of environment makes them step up as leaders and work together as team.”

Sign Up for E-News

Coulter, who took the position of Seneca Battalion commander in late July, is an infantry officer with the highly coveted Ranger Tab, and knows exactly what he asked his cadets to do last weekend.

Starting around noon on Friday, cadets arrived at a staging area in the forests behind Houghton College and were quickly briefed and handed paintball guns. They had under an hour to organize themselves and step off into a tactical scenario lasting until Sunday morning, in which they hunted an elusive opposition force – OPFOR – made up of other cadets that had arrived before them.

All day Friday, cadets maneuvered through the training area, clearing specific checkpoints of enemy personnel given to them by a fictional commander. Moving in squad-sized elements and communicating with each other using radios, they coped with crossing heavy flowing streams and climbing steep, slippery slopes while maintaining tactical awareness, security, and movement formations. As darkness fell, the cadets returned to a simulated village where they took shelter for the night, taking turns sleeping while others stayed awake on security.

“They were carrying 70 pound rucks up and down hills all day, in a tactical scenario where they only put them down to fight,” Coulter said.

On Saturday, cadets moved out before the sun came up, searching for OPFOR squads attempting to move into the battlespace and cut off the village. They spent the morning in skirmishes at various weapons caches, encountering and ambushing OPFOR at key locations around the training area, before moving back to the village in the afternoon hours to conduct a KLE, or Key Leader Engagement, with the village elder.

When each squad arrived, it encountered a local police force, staffed by local college students carrying Nerf guns, who forced them to contend with a volatile armed force while trying to make contact with the key leader – a common occurrence overseas, especially in the urban centers of Iraq. High schoolers acting as unarmed villagers and an insurgent force added to the scenario and gave the squads more problems to contend with.

“Introducing a village and multiple civilian role players into the training adds an element that cadets will have to cope with in the near future at camp and as second lieutenant’s in the Army,” Coulter said.

Squads had to meet with the key leader in order to win the villagers’ support. If they did not, the villagers supported the OPFOR and allowed them to occupy the village once the Americans left.

As the sun began to set on Saturday, the squads combined to form a platoon and moved on the village in order to remove the OPFOR from it.

On Sunday, cadets conducted a complex land navigation course, requiring them to go out alone or in pairs instead of in squads as they had during the previous two days. They concluded the exercise and quickly cleaned up the area before heading home.

“Overall, I feel that the cadets did extremely well,” Coulter said. “They coped with adverse conditions in an austere training environment that many of them had not seen before. They came out highly motivated with new knowledge that they can apply to the rest of their training for future success.”

While the challenges of FTX were overcome by Seneca Battalion, far greater tests loom on the horizon.

Every summer, ROTC cadets travel to Fort Knox to participate in what is now known as Basic and Advanced Camp. Basic Camp is an Initial Entry Training of sorts, where cadets are taught basic soldier skills to a high degree of proficiency by subject matter experts – usually drill sergeants – and expected to execute them in a 10-day field training. Freshmen, sophomores, and people unsure if they want to make a commitment to the Army attend this Camp. Advanced Camp is a Capstone Event – a requirement for earning a commission in the US Army – and is about applying those skills as a leader and leading peers through a 14-day simulated war, in which cadets have to root out an insurgency while battling a conventional opposition force and coping with civilian role-players on the battlefield, who are more often than not working with the enemy.

“ROTC Advanced Camp is getting harder,” Coulter said. “It’s intended to not only test the cadets’ knowledge and skills learned during three years of ROTC, but to test their character under mentally and physically tough conditions  We wanted to make [FTX] as tough as possible. The soldiers – America’s sons and daughters –they will lead in the future demand nothing less.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

After a 46-year absence, I'm Still at Home on Bona Radio

A timeworn idiom asserts that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.  As a retired guy, floating around in my mid-sixties, I easily qualify as an “old dog.” But since September I’ve been doing a weekly radio show on St. Bonaventure University’s radio station, WSBU FM, 88.3, the Buzz, and I’m thinking that perhaps that old negative phrase can be turned into a ...

Self-Defense Empowers Women

Real estate agent Mary Stachowicz fears becoming a victim of violence.

Why? Because she shows houses to groups of men by herself.

Stachowicz voiced those fears after the Jan. 27 “Beyond Self Defense Seminar” she attended at AKT Combatives Academy in Olean. And she said she believed that in order to overcome this fear, it would be valuable to learn self-defense.

“My son ...

The Story of Punxsutawney Phil

With Groundhog Day landing on Friday this year, thousands will watch in person and even more will tune in from home to see Punxsutawney Phil make his yearly prediction.

As legend has it, if Phil sees his shadow at dusk on Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter are on its way. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, and early spring can be expected.

Phil may very well be the world’s second ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, February 23, 3:45 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Pokemon Club

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, February 24, 11:00 AM

William O. Smith Recreation Center, Olean

Southern Tier Diesel Informational Meeting and ...

Sports

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

St. Bonaventure Parish—Memorial Hall, Allegany

"Cooking Sustainably"

Health & Wellness

CRCF grant gives $22 thousand for biennial, artist support

February 20, 2018

ALLEGANY, NY -- The Cattaraugus County Arts Council recently received a $22,207 grant from the F. Donald Kenney Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, once again in support of the Southern Tier Biennial Art Show.

The endowment fund was established through Mr. Kenney’s estate to support the biennial art exhibition in perpetuity.

A graduate of Olean High School, Holy Cross ...

Exhibit Opening at JCC's Olean Campus Offers New Ways to Visualize Disease and Recovery

OLEAN, NY -- A new exhibition, titled “Artist/Patient/Advocate: Works by Elizabeth Jameson and Ted Meyer,” offers new ways of visualizing disease and recovery.

Opening Friday from 6-8 p.m. in the Center Gallery on the Jamestown Community College Olean campus, this exhibit features artwork that incorporates diagnostic brain scans, photographs and rubbings taken from body scars. Los ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...