On a mission: Colorado State ROTC cadets train for combat with paintball

Editor’s note: On Nov. 4, the article was changed to reflect the following corrections and clarifications: It was incorrectly stated that only freshmen and sophomores attended the combat training. In fact, juniors went as well. It was also reported that ROTC cadets went into three buildings, whereas they actually went into two. In addition, the story included the term “Opt. 4,” which is instead spelled “OP FOR.” A similar error occurred when “Atropians of Ldacastan” was incorrectly spelled “Atropates of Aldacastan.” Also, the article’s original version implied that most cadets are not interested in pursuing careers as army officers, whereas the opposite is true. The Collegian regrets its errors.

On November 1, CSU’s freshmen, sophomore and junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets congregated at the fire station on the corner of Taft Hill RoadROTC cadetsand Vine Street. Their mission: to conduct mount training on objective jack o’ lantern. Or in other words, clear the buildings and “kill” the enemy.

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“It’s called MOUT Training (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) so basically it’s movement throughout urban terrain. Simulating Afghanistan by moving through out-of-town where you need to be able to clear rooms but you’re not exactly sure who’s hostile and who’s a bystander in the situation,” said Chris Le, Senior Economics major and Military Science IV Cadet.

The purpose of the lab was to simulate, as lively as possible, downrange in Iraq. There were many moving components.

They were given their mission and their squads in advance. Furthermore, they knew who they were working with and have worked with them prior to the lab.

“Go into two buildings and clear the buildings of enemy forces. They don’t know how many enemies but they know the layout

of the buildings. They know the start and end point of the mission. But what they have to do now is go out and conduct the mission. There will be innocent people. They have to be able to decipher a threat. They have to know who is good and who is bad,” Le said.

OPFOR, the enemy, was clad in black shirts and scarves carrying loaded paintball guns with every intention of firing them. Defending their land from various bunkers and stairwells, the cadets were given a difficult task of overtaking the “Atropians of Ldacastan.”

“It will be like a live combat situation but it also teaches the fundamentals of being a good leader,” Le said.

Under a high pressure scenario and “losing” people along the way, the squad leaders were in charge of their group and being watched by seniors at how they handle what was thrown their way.

“You’ve never actually seen war; you don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know what it’s like to lose someone and that’s the greatest challenge for any ROTC cadet is to try to focus themselves and know what to prepare for and how they can better themselves to help their troops,” Le said.

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Aside from gaining leadership skills, many of the students participating in ROTC have the intention of pursuing a career in the armed forces.

“I was originally going to enlist out of high school; I always wanted to join the military. I contracted and have been doing it ever since. I will be active duty infantry. ROTC is a good foundation and that’s all it is,” said Michael Doryland, Senior International Studies Major and MS IV Cadet.

While the main reason for joining ROTC at CSU has been to become an officer, is not the only career path students are seeking.

“I originally joined to check it out. I love it and I’m sticking with it. I’m going to medical school and I want to be a doctor for the military. I am looking forward to going active, that’s what I want to do,” said Sami Sorenson, a junior health and exercise science major.

These labs are a key training aspect to this program. They teach leadership, feeling comfortable in front of groups and how to lead others. It also teaches them how to work under stress.

Having gone overseas before, Lucas Musseau believes that labs like these shed some light on the layout of similar situations one can face in combat situations.

“We do this in the regular army too. I intend to go active again as an officer,” said Lucas Musseau, an MS III. “It’s one of the more fun labs, but it’s useful.”

Collegian Writer Cassandra Whelihan can be reached at news@collegian.com.