MIRAMAR, Calif. - Bursting 5.56 mm rounds are a familiar sound at the Carlos Hathcock Range, but for many of the 145 San Diego State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets this was their first time hearing the ‘pops’ as they fired M-16A4 rifles aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Oct. 21.
The Aztec Battalion cadets took advantage of the training facilities aboard East Miramar, such as the Carlos Hathcock Range and trails, during a three-day field-training exercise in which they increased their military knowledge.
“We’re giving the junior cadets an opportunity to lead a squad in preparation for the ‘Warrior Forge’,” said Shane A. Swanson, a San Diego State University Army ROTC cadet and a Tucson, Ariz., native.
After the cadets’ junior year at school, they attend the Warrior Forge, which is an event conducted every summer in Ft. Lewis, Wash. Cadets from ROTC units across the nation are assessed at the Warrior Forge.
“For the cadets, it is the final stage [of their ROTC training],” said 2nd Lt. Ryan Proctor, a recruiting operations officer with Aztec Battalion, ROTC command and an Enterprise, Ala., native. “They get tested on everything they have learned.”
During the Warrior Forge, the cadets complete the Army physical fitness test, land navigation, patrolling and situational training exercises, during which they undergo squad attacks, ambushes and movement to enemy fire.
The cadets know the training facilities at East Miramar will give them an edge during the Warrior Forge.
“I’ve heard stories of cadets from other schools where they were doing tactical training at their campus football field,” said Dennis Alcazar, SDSU Army ROTC cadet and a San Diego, Calif., native. “Here we get to use actual ranges.”
East Miramar’s terrain provided the battalion cadets with a more realistic feeling of a combat zone in preparation for the Warrior Forge.
“We get a lot more out of this than walking around a football field at a college campus,” said Swanson. “It’s better that we have this help from our Marine Corps brothers.”
The SDSU Army ROTC unit is composed of students from surrounding schools, such as the University of California San Diego, California State University San Marcos, University of San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, Alliant University, National University, University of Phoenix and all San Diego County junior colleges.
The ROTC program is designed for college students interested in a military career. Throughout their time in the ROTC program, the students learn leadership skills and are able to pursue a career in the military as a commissioned officer.
After completion of the Warrior Forge, the cadets will receive their assessment, during which they find what job is best for them. The access to East Miramar’s facilities helped prepare the cadets for the upcoming Warrior Forge, but also gave them a look at their future as U.S. Army commissioned officers.