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AROTC: Putting Leadership to Practice

Portland Battalion Army ROTC cadets after a fun day of FLRC training. Photo by Dominique Pascua

At 4:00 p.m. on March 21 the Army ROTC Portland Battalion conducted their weekly leadership lab at the University of Portland campus.

Unlike their usual Squad Tactics Exercises (STX) – which entailed real-life battlefield simulations – Field Leadership Reaction Course (FLRC) was considered an easy-going and no-pressure day for the cadets.

Usually, Squad Leaders were evaluated on execution and mission completion. Their evaluations counted toward their standings as cadets in the AROTC program.

In FLRC, Squad Leaders were instructed to plan and complete various team-building obstacle courses, but their main objective was to show their leadership ability and adaptability skills. Completing the course didn’t matter and their progress was not graded.

Ideally, an evaluator should quickly be able to tell who the leader is among the group of cadets. Evaluators advised the Squad Leaders to maintain command and control. Part of being a strong and effective leader is to be able to portray excellent “command presence.”

While the underclassmen went through the obstacles, the seniors were the evaluators – not the Cadre.

In the ROTC program, the teachers are the upperclassmen whom have trained for three years and will become an army officer when they graduate. During the summer after their junior year, cadets are required to pass an AROTC camp called LDAC. When they graduate from college they commission as Second Lieutenants.

These camp graduates had to participate in a larger-scale FLRC at LDAC. Some of the obstacles at UP were simpler versions of what they encountered at camp.

Despite the relaxed evaluations, the obstacles were very difficult to complete.

The four obstacles were known as “The Web of Death,” “The Magic Pebble,” “The Spider Web,” and “The Bridge.”

Each obstacle forced the squads to think creatively.

Many squads failed their obstacles due to disqualifications or time constraints, but they never gave up and continually gave each other support.

At the end of the day, the seniors rewarded their effort and the winning squad was given an extra “blue chip” to use as a free get-out-of-class card.

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