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NCOA gives JROTC a taste of Army training

Aubri Fallon and Kaylinn Escalante, Daleville JROTC cadets, go through the tire walk of the NCOA obstacle course during a cadet challenge Dec. 8. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Aubri Fallon and Kaylinn Escalante, Daleville JROTC cadets, go through the tire walk of the NCOA obstacle course during a cadet challenge Dec. 8. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Edwin Sapp II and Justin Mimms, Daleville JROTC cadets, attempt the rope climb of the NCOA obstacle course during a cadet challenge Dec. 8. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Edwin Sapp II and Justin Mimms, Daleville JROTC cadets, attempt the rope climb of the NCOA obstacle course during a cadet challenge Dec. 8. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: December 11, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 11, 2014) -- From Iron Aviator to Iron Soldier to Iron Squad, Fort Rucker runs its share of Soldier competitions, but the installation and up-and-coming, future Soldiers may be competing in the Iron Cadet Challenge.

Cadets from the Daleville Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps were invited to take a shot at the NCO Academy’s obstacle course Dec. 8 as a way to train up for a bigger challenge that would pit them against other cadets from the surrounding communities, according to 1st Sgt. Carl A. Miller, NCO Academy deputy commandant.

“This is something that we just started, and what we’re hoping to do is make it into a culminating event where we bring the three high schools’, Daleville, Enterprise and Ozark, JROTC programs to compete against each other,” he said. “We get them out here and we train them so they understand what the obstacles are and what the events are. That will give them about a month to a month and a half to train themselves, and do better when they actually have to come back here and do it as an event that will be timed like a team competition.”

Close to 100 JROTC cadets braved the cold weather to take on the challenges put forth by the NCOA as a way to not only give them a taste of Army life, but also to teach the importance of team building, said Miller.

“That teambuilding aspect is huge because nobody can be successful in this organization on your own,” said the deputy commandant. “You’re always going to have someone there at your left or right who’s going to pick up for those areas that may be your weak in.

“It’s a good way to teach them, as they go through the course, that maybe somebody is good at one particular thing and maybe someone else can compensate for the weakness of somebody else,” he said. “Whether it be between five people or society as a whole, we all lean on each other for strength during good and bad times, so it’s important for us to show that aspect of team building.”

Through the course, cadets were met with different obstacles designed to test their strength, speed and teamwork.

The course started off with a low-crawl event during which the students had to crawl through sand under low-hanging ropes without touching the ropes. Once they got through the low-crawl, they switch gears into a reverse climb at about a 70-degree angle that they had to climb up and over before taking on a tire run. After the tire run, the students hit the Big Wall, which is a vertical wall they had to overcome before taking on a rope climb.

After the obstacle course, the cadets made their way over to the softball fields where another course was set up that was meant to test their endurance and teamwork skills.

They first had to go through a 5-gallon water carry challenge and then participate in a litter carry, where they had to work as a team to carry a team member to certain points on the course. Finally, the students had to do a canteen-cup water carry, where they had to fill a canteen cup on one side of the course and carry the contents, backwards, to a canteen on the opposite side of the course and fill it as much as they can within a certain amount of time.

Alasia Stewart, company executive officer for the Daleville JROTC, said the challenge was a lot of fun, and a good opportunity for self motivation and to see what she was made of.

“Dealing with things like this helps us to deal with challenges in life, and helps us push ourselves more, so I really liked it and really enjoyed it,” said Stewart, who was able to complete every challenge except the rope climb. “The rope was the hardest part, I don’t think I have enough upper arm strength, but I tried and that’s what matters.”

Trying new experiences and breaking out of your shell is what Brian Harris, Daleville JROTC battalion commander, said JROTC is all about.

“When I first joined JROTC I was just getting over losing my father, so I saw this as a great opportunity to get myself out there,” he said. “I was really self conscious and unsociable, and I saw JROTC as a way to break myself out of my shell. It really builds up your self-confidence and makes you more willing to get out there. It’s a great program and I’d recommend it to anybody. You get out of it what you put into it.

“It’s a good feeling to come out here to do this because not everyone gets to do something like this,” he continued. “It’s really unique compared to what we’re doing at the school because at the school we’re limited to what we can do.”

There is a lot of emphasis on the physical training aspect in the Daleville JRTOC program, said retired Lt. Col. Christopher L. Miller, senior Army instructor for Daleville JROTC. The program’s mission is to help the students become better citizens, not just from a military aspect, but all aspects in life after high school, he said.

“This (challenge) not only helps us give them something fresh and new for physical training, but it also gives them an opportunity for leadership tasks, organizational skills and motivation,” said the JROTC instructor. “The battalion staff will now take this experience and work on an operations order for the big competition. The company commanders will take this experience and do a risk assessment, and go through the military decision making process. It really impacts a lot of the different things we teach in class on a weekly basis and puts it all in one package.”

That training and experience is the goal of the NCOA when putting on events like the cadet challenge, said Miller.

“I just want these students to learn the value of teamwork, and really push themselves to think out of the box and to get out there and be proactive,” he said. “I want to show them that everything we do in the Army is not just about going and getting the bad guy. It’s about the camaraderie, and the sense of teamwork and cohesion. Like they used to say, it’s more than just a job – it is an adventure.”

This article was originally published at

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