Over a hundred ROTC cadets geared up with heavy packs, military gear and paintball guns over the weekend and engaged in field training exercises.
Cadets spent four days participating in training operations around the hillsides near Paintball USA off of Sierra Highway.
“It’s geared towards leadership development,” said Lt. Col. Justin Chezem. “But we use combat battle training because (the students) need to understand field craft.”
Students from the Trojan ROTC program spent their nights under the stars and woke up early to develop military plans, pursue objectives and evaluate their performances.
“Communication is important because you always go into a mission with a plan,” said Cadet Keagan Stasch.
“But the second you start getting shot at or you realize that there was something on the map that you didn’t see, you have to be able to adjust.”
Students are put into various groups ranging from small squads to larger platoons to accomplish various objectives.
“We throw in multiple variables,” said Lt. Col. Chezem. “One mission they might be in heated conflict, the next mission they might respond to a civilian in need.”
The Trojan ROTC program avoided the arenas provided by Paintball USA and instead turned to the natural landscape of the hills surrounding the business.
“It’s similar terrain that they would experience, to some degree, in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Chezem. “It’s very rugged, it’s very hilly.”
The Trojan ROTC program involves the University of Southern California, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Long Beach and University of California Irvine and requires cadets to work with other students unfamiliar with them.
“You don’t always intimately know your team members, but you have to develop effective command over people from all different backgrounds,” said Steven Scott, a graduate student in the program.
Scott was in the middle of the exercises and the paintball fire, evaluating the cadets on their performance and leadership ability.
“We’re not going for a textbook approach for a problem we’re faced with,” Scott said. “We’re looking at real world conditions and evaluating them for how they are handling the situation.