CU ROTC hosts Texas universities for tactical training

Fort Sill_Cameron University's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) hosts groups from several Texas universities at Fort Sill this weekend.  Squads from the University of Texas, Arlington, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, and Tarleton State University arrived in Lawton for field training exercises.

It's important to not that they are still students, and one of their instructors emphasized that the students' involvement in ROTC is voluntary - and, they're doing so in a time of war.

At Fort Sill's Camp Eagle, a squad of ROTC cadets will go through tactical scenarios, mock searching a home for enemy combatants.  Cameron University student Corey Clowers was the squad leader for the drill 7News was invited to see.  He says these exercises are profoundly important.  "When you have people shooting at your people, that you're in charge of, you're thinking to yourself, 'If this is real life, then they just died because of a mistake that I made'," says Clowers.  "So you think a lot about the training.  You realize how important it is that we go through this all the time."

The simulated mission ends with an after action review, where an instructor evaluates Clowers on his performance and leadership skills.  "Now that I know how to react to the situation, and pull security throughout the whole area, then I think it will definitely improve - help me improve - for the future," he says.

A different cadet leads each simulated mission after an instructor gives an operation order.  The squad has 18-minutes to create a plan, and approximately one-hour to execute the mission.  LTC Bill Pitts, Cameron University ROTC Instructor says these tactical scenarios are vital to the cadets' training.  "To force them to be able to react quickly, make decisions, whether bad or good," he says.  "But to learn from their decisions, because we're grooming the future officers of the United States Army."

Cadets receive instruction from high-ranking military officers - including Colonels and Sergeant Majors.  Captain Stephen Johnson, Texas Tech ROTC Instructor says it's a great opportunity for his students.  "Some really professional people who these kids are allowed to be around, and just learn from that vast amount of experience," he says.

Cadets were also able to experience different climate changes.  They endured temperatures in the high 80s, while wearing full gear on Thursday, and Friday brought them the chill of frigid 40s.  "It teaches them field crafts," says Pitts.  "[It teaches them] how to take care of themselves in cold weather - in different types of weather - warm or cold.  It's a challenge, but it's not raining and that's a good thing."

Cadets also are taught the proper procedure for interacting with the media during combat situations.  When 7News arrived during a training mission, they treated us as if we were part of the scenario, and sent two cadets to investigate.

Organizers intend to expand the program next year to involve more universities - including Oklahoma University, Oklahoma City University, and Oklahoma State University.