The fall semester is moving along quickly and with that, West Virginia University’s Mountaineer Battalion is gearing up for the annual Fall Field Training Exercise. Ninety-two cadets, ranging from freshmen to seniors, will be in training this weekend (Oct. 2-4) at Camp Dawson, located in Preston County, W.Va.

The exercise will last from mid-day Friday until Sunday evening. On Friday, training will focus on land navigation. Cadets must find five out of eight points on the day course and three out of five on the night course in order to pass.
In addition to giving cadets practical experience with tasks such as terrain analysis, map reading, use of the compass, etc., the course is also aimed at building confidence and self-reliance.

Cadets will then camp out over night at the field site and wake up in the morning to another full day of training events. On the second day, the cadets will be divided into squads of nine or 10 members and conduct situational training exercises.

Leadership positions are rotated throughout the day, so that as many cadets as possible are given the opportunity to lead. The scenarios confronting the squad leaders in situational training are only limited by the evaluator’s imagination. Some missions will be standard repertoire, whereas others will introduce tough variables.

Examples from past years include civilians on the battlefield, embedded media, taking artillery fire and receiving a complete change of mission midway through. The overall purpose is to produce adaptive leaders who are confident in themselves and in their soldiers.

On the final day at Camp Dawson, cadets will train on the obstacle course and a new 60-foot rappel tower after a five-kilometer foot march with a 35-pound rucksack. The obstacle course accomplishes three important things: it promotes physical fitness, builds team work and confidence in their abilities to perform demanding physical tasks. The purpose of the rappel tower is to instill basic military skills and further reinforce the cadet’s self-confidence overcoming their fears.

The weekend is important for all cadets regardless of their year in school.

For many of the freshmen cadets, this will be their first hands-on experience with the Army. The sophomores are mentoring the younger cadets and training for their junior year. The juniors of the battalion are getting ready to go to their final training assessment this summer at Fort Lewis, Wash.

The juniors’ performance at Fort Lewis will be a key factor in determining whether or not they go on active duty, into the Army Reserve or National Guard upon graduation. It also helps determine whether they get their branch, or specialty, of choice. The seniors serve as facilitators for the field training exercise and evaluators for the cadets in leadership positions during the situational exercises.

The goal of the training, as with all ROTC training, is to prepare each cadet for commissioning as a second lieutenant upon graduation from WVU.
For more information, contact the WVU Army ROTC office at 304-293-2911 or online at


(MEDIA: If you wish to cover any of the field training exercises, please contact Major Wayne Sodowsky at 913-547-2508 or Major Mark Hennigan at 304-685-7766)

CONTACT: Wayne Sodowsky, WVU Army ROTC