Cadet shadowing makes for bright future

1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Story by 2nd Lt. Kent Williams

Date: 09.18.2017
Posted: 03.14.2018 13:19
News ID: 269378
Cadet shadowing makes for bright future

"Gas! Gas! Gas!" The warning cry echoed in the company operations facility as Soldiers moved quickly to don their gas masks and protective chemically resistant clothing.
One minute turned into two, two into three, and soon Soldiers began to fall. They were not able to get their equipment on fast enough and, as a result, fell victim to the noxious fumes slowly dispersing in the sunlight.
"Move! Get the stretchers and get them into the (evacuation vehicle)," screamed one of the sergeants. "If we don't get them out of here in the next five minutes they're dead!"
All motion ceased. Soldiers of Company B, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, waited with bated breath that slowly fogged the lenses of their gas masks.
"All right, you can remove your masks now, keep the gear on for the next part of training."
The order Aug. 24, 2017, didn't come from the platoon leader or from a sergeant; it came from Cadet Daniel D. West from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
West was on a Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) rotation at Fort Carson Aug. 16-31, 2017. The CTLT program is run by U.S. Army Cadet Command and allows senior cadets to shadow a military sponsor, traditionally an active-duty platoon leader.
The program is broken into two halves -- shadowing their sponsor and then assuming leadership in the unit in some way.
During the shadow period, the cadet sees how the unit operates on a daily basis so he understands how to lead it when he takes over. During the leadership phase, the cadet assumes leadership of the unit inasmuch as the unit can allow.
West was not allowed much of a shadow period and was thrust into the platoon leader position more than a few times during his first week and it continued into the second week.
Acting with his sponsor, West oversaw multiple health and wellness inspections, dealt with Soldier issues, helped with unit public affairs representative duties during multiple change of commands and ran chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear preparedness training.
He also drafted and published two operations orders; one for the gas training and another for a leader's certification course, which tested squads and squad leaders on basic military skills.
"It was impressive to see how much he learned and how he was able to apply it. I think this was a unique and incredibly beneficial experience for Cadet West," said Capt. Yaritza Torres, Company B commander.
"I trained new lieutenants at Fort Lee (Virginia) when I was an instructor at (the Basic Officers Leaders Course), so it was nice to be able to impart some experience before they made it to that stage," said Company B 1st Sgt. David Bush.
During his brief time at Fort Carson, West was exposed to Soldiers that combined have served more than a century in the military.
"It was a truly unique experience," West said. "I had a commander who gave me the freedom to try things (and) a first sergeant who took the time to teach me the NCO side of the house … I learned so much more than I could have in a classroom."
Editor's note: West shadowed the author of this article, 2nd Lt. Kent Williams, Company B, 4th BSB, during his CTLT at Fort Carson.