Field training helps sharpen skills of ROTC cadets

The Grambling State University ROTC program had their annual Fall Field Training Exercise (FTX) in November in the woods of Fort Polk.

Some of the cadets were able to depart Grambling’s campus in a helicopter that departed from the high school track. Others were brought to Fort Polk via 15 passenger vans. 

“I’m always happy every year when we travel to Fort Polk on the helicopters,” Ramelo Ford, the cadet Battalion Commander said. “This is my fourth year in a row doing this event and every year feels different. This year I am the battalion commander and I get to teach and assist the younger cadets on ROTC fundamentals.” 

Just like the real Army, the ROTC trains to be in a combat zone. They brought their ruck sacks, big bags with a frame to carry military items.

On average, the cadets pack a 35-pound rucksack with wet weather gear, hygiene kits, a sleeping bag and tools needed to navigate in the woods. 

The FTX at Fort Polk included a handful of Louisiana colleges, such as Southern in Baton Rouge and Northwestern in Natchitoches. 

When cadets arrived, they went through an obstacle course to build morale and to break some ice within the other schools.

The obstacle course included a rope to climb, low crawling phases and monkey bars.

Cadets then sat in a briefing to get more information on career paths they might want to take in the Army. 

 “I think the briefing was the most important part of the whole experience in Fort Polk,” Brittany Miller said. “Some people think that just because you are in the military you can’t get a civilian-like job. I think it’s important for people to know that you can get jobs in the Army medical field or a job as military police officer."  

“The briefing was informative and even had people from different lines of work,” Miller said.

The cadets also did day and night land navigation, where cadets had to find points in the woods that were set up by the cadre. Cadets had three hours to find at least three of five points for day land navigation, and they had two hours to find two of three points in night land navigation. They couldn’t use cell phones; however, they had maps, protractors, compasses, and the skills they learned during the semester. 

Lastly, the cadets ran missions in the woods. This means cadets acted as if they were in a combat zone where they had to move and think tactically to execute enemies. 

For more information on Grambling State’s ROTC, visit, or go to the unit’s Instagram, @gsuarmyrotc, or visit Facebook @Grambling Army ROTC to see more of their activities.

In fall 2020 cadets departed from GSU's campus aboard a helicopter to Fort Polk.

GSU cadets take a break in the field.