Sapper Leader Course

by Cadet Lucas Grulke 

The Sapper Leader Course is the premier leadership course for the Engineer Regiment. This course focuses on the necessary skills and advanced techniques for combat engineers in the Army. Split up into two phases, General Studies and Patrolling, the course is 28 days long. 

General Studies consists of many different classes, training, and tests that are pertinent to engineers to utilize. Training such as air operations, mountaineering and rappelling operations, waterborne operations and demolition operations. Throughout the General Studies phase, Sapper Candidates will be put through demanding physical and mental tests both individually and in teams, events such as the Sapper Physical Fitness Test, Sapper 12 mile ruck, Land Navigation, Boat PT, squad fitness tests, knots and rappelling, squad mountaineering operations and squad waterborne operations. At the end of General Studies, the Sapper Candidates will be told whether or not they have passed that phase and can continue on to the Patrolling Phase. 

The Patrolling Phase is the culmination of all the skills that the Sapper Candidates learned in General Studies put to the test in an intense field training exercise. Sapper Candidates will conduct continual 24 hour Engineer and Infantry missions, forcing them to use battle drills and specialized engineer techniques. With little food and little sleep, the Sapper Candidates need to continually perform and lead from the front in order to accomplish their mission. This phase focuses on leadership and team work, for these are the necessary components to accomplish the mission and to graduate the course. At the end of Patrolling the Sapper Candidates will be taken to Heart Break formation where they will be told whether or not they met the requirements to graduate and wear the Sapper Tab. 

The motto of the course states, “Earn the Right!” and that is heavily stressed throughout. The honor to be awarded the status of Sapper Leader and wear the Tab does not come from just participating in the course. Sapper Leader Course is a leadership course and expects that leadership is displayed and upheld in all candidates in order for them to earn the right to wear the tab. Physically and mentally demanding, this course will test candidates in stressful and austere environments pushing them further every day with new challenges to overcome. 


Airborne School

by Cadet Everhett Biland 

When I first heard that I had been selected for Airborne School and was “awarded” the first summer regiment, I was excited but very stressed. Turns out taking your final exams a week early is not an easy process. However, I’m so happy that I did. Airborne was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Never would I have imagined myself jumping out of airplanes on my own, but after only two weeks of training, I was confident enough to jump right out that C-130 door, following everyone before me. My biggest fear during this school wasn’t jumping out of planes; rather, I was scared I would have a heat stroke adjusting from the cold temperatures of Houghton to the Heat Cat 5 temperatures of Fort Benning, GA. I did not expected Airborne to be as relaxed as it is. We were given weekends off and I made quite a few friends and we would go and do stuff on these weekends, like going to the movies, kayaking, hiking and golfing. To anybody that ever has the opportunity to attend this school, I would 110% recommend it. If I had the opportunity to do the whole thing over again, I would in a heartbeat. 


Air Assault School

Cadet Mark Wallach in front of Air Assualt sign

by Cadet Mark Wallach 

Air Assault School is a rigorous 11-day course held at the Sabalauski Air Assault School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Students of the Air Assault School learn the basics in combat assault and aeromedical operations, sling loading, and rappelling. Day Zero of the course begins with a two-mile run in full uniform. Students are then led through and extensive physical training session before completing an obstacle course. Fail more than one obstacle, and students are dropped from the course. Day One starts with a forced 6-mile ruck march in under 90 minutes, followed by an intensive equipment layout. If a student is missing an item, or an item is unserviceable, the student is dropped from the course. Students then begin classes on Army aircraft, hand and arm signals, combat assault, and aeromedical operations. Physical training every morning ranges from a 4-mile run to log and rifle PT. Phase two involves sling load operations. Students must be able to identify 3/4 deficiencies in four separate sling loads in order to pass. Phase three is the fun phase. Students learn the basics in rappelling and have the opportunity to rappel from a UH-60 Blackhawk. The course concludes with a 12-mile ruck march in under 30 hours, another intensive equipment layout, and finally graduation. 


Advanced Camp

A large group of cadets posing in the woods with colored powder everywhere.

by Cadet Collin Mitchell 

Advanced Camp is a thirty-seven day-long assessment of cadets heading into their final year or semester of Army ROTC. The assessment tests each cadet on various aspects of leadership ranging from individual skills to platoon based tactics. After arriving to advanced camp, one of the first phases is a focus on team building within the newly formed platoon. The activities for this phase include Field Leaders’ Reaction Course and squad-level exercises. During this phase cadets are also individually tested on their ability to complete a day and night time land navigation course, confidence course with a rappelling tower, and pass a rifle marksmanship course. Cadets were also able to gain valuable experience on a live grenade range and buddy team live-fire course. While completing all of these team and individual tests, cadets are learning platoon-sized tactics in preparation for their final and most important assessment during the “Deployment” phase. In this phase, there are three different areas of operations, or AOs, known as Wolverine, Panther, and Grizzly, where cadets conduct consequence driven platoon missions against opposing forces. The difficulty for each AO increased respectively, with Wolverine being the “crawl” section, at which camp cadre lead the cadets through multiple battle scenarios and how they are completed to standard. AO Panther was then cadre guided where the cadets had more freedom to lead but were kept on track by cadre. Grizzly, the final AO, was completely cadet led and held the most opposing forces presence, making it possible to be attacked at any moment. During this phase, cadets were graded in squad leader, platoon sergeant, and platoon leader positions with respect to the Army Leadership Requirements Model. 


Military Ball

Officer toasting during ball

April 26th 

This year’s Military Ball was held at the Magnuson Hotel in downtown Houghton. Together Army and Airforce cadets planned and set up the event. The preparations made for a very pleasant and fun evening. 

Present at the Military Ball were many special guests. At the top of this special list, guess was guest speaker Brigadier General Slocum. He is the Brigadier General for the Air Force National Guard in Michigan. He had been a fighter pilot for 35 years flying F16s and A10s. 

The evening started off with an informal meeting and greeting among everyone. Then a formal meet and greet of the special guests and head cadre were held. The colors were posted by a joint Army, Air Force color guard to signify the opening ball. 

A prayer was said by an Air Force chaplain and toasts were given. Then everyone was allowed to get dinner. The food was quite delectable. There were mashed potatoes, beef, salmon, and many other great options for food. After the dinner, the cake was cut and served to all in attendance. 

Lieutenant Colonel Thompson then gave his prepared speech for the night, cracking a few good jokes for the group. Following him was Lieutenant Colonel O’Kane of the Air Force. He gave his speech and introduced Brigadier General Slocum. 

The speech given by Brigadier General Slocum was about how to become a better leader and what it means to be a better leader. This was one of the last speeches he made while in uniform as he will be retiring at the beginning of May after 35 years of service. 

Following the speech, colors were retired and those in attendance were allowed to depart or stay for pictures and dancing. 

Mill Ball was a great time to have fun, formally relax, and learn about proper leadership and excellence. As the final event of the semester, Military Ball celebrates the hard work that all the cadets and cadre have put into the year and serves to remind us all the significance of service to our great nation. 


Awards and Change of Command Ceremony

Cadets at attention in uniform during changing of command ceremony

April 25th 

Recognizing the outstanding efforts of the cadets in the First Arctic Battalion, the end of the year awards ceremony was held. These awards ranged from academic achievement, physical achievement, military achievement and leadership achievement. Some of the notable awards were the Dean’s List award where over twenty cadets attained a GPA of 3.5 or higher. With the majority of our cadets being STEM majors this is a significant achievement. We were also able to recognize the efforts of the top cadet in each class as well as the Cadet of the Semester which is given to either an MSI or MSII after voting and interviews with the upperclassmen. Our cadets are continually striving for excellence and this is seen in the number of them who achieve such high recognition in various areas of their hard work. 

The next notable recognition is the Change of Command Ceremony for the First Arctic Warrior Battalion. During this ceremony, the leadership is passed on to the new MSIV class and the new Cadet Battalion Commander and Cadet Command Sergeant Major are given their responsibilities to lead the battalion. The Outgoing Cadet Battalion Commander Cameron Gregg passed the leadership of the battalion to the Incoming Cadet Battalion Commander Mark Wallach. A significant event in the battalion’s leadership as the new class takes over for the new school year. Once the change of command was done the Outgoing, Incoming, and Professor of Military Science gave their respective speeches about the year and what is to come. The Outgoing Battalion Commander is then awarded the coveted Battalion Commander’s Saber as recognition of a job well done and his great leadership. 


Spring Field Training Exercises (FTX)

April 11th – 14th 

Due to treacherous weather conditions in Wisconsin, spring FTX was moved from Fort McCoy, WI to the Calumet National Guard Armory, 20 minutes north of Michigan Tech. MSIII cadets from Northern Michigan University joined our MS3s in training on a variety of tasks they will need to complete at Advanced Camp this summer.

Day one of the FTX consisted of establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and rehearsing tactics to be used in the following days. During day two, cadets cycled through the EST simulation range, to practice the fundamentals of marksmanship. These would then be put to the test as cadets went to a real shooting range to group, zero, and qualify on an Alternate C paper target. Cadets spent that night practicing patrol base operations. Day three started early, and after strapping on their snowshoes, cadets armed with paintball and airsoft guns went out into the field to train on a variety of missions—movement to contact, ambush, defense, attack, and more patrol base operations. Since the group was much smaller than it would have been had the cadets gone to Fort McCoy with five other schools, cadets were able to get many more repetitions at leadership positions. Exhausted after trudging through snow all day, all that remained for the cadets was to clean up the equipment and the armory, and head home. The Calumet Armory proved to be an excellent training area, and cadets all walked away having learned something to take with them to Advanced Camp this summer. 


German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge

April 12th – 14th 

Three metal badges, gold silver, bronze.

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) is a medal awarded to soldiers who successfully pass the German Army’s physical test, marksmanship test, and medic test. In order for American cadets and soldiers to obtain the medal, a German soldier must be present to administer and oversee the assessment of the candidates. 

In April of 2019 Marquette University of Milwaukee’s ROTC program was given the chance to host the GAFPB assessment. A Sergeant Major liaison from the German Army came up from Texas where he was working with US Armed Forces to give the test. 

Michigan Tech ROTC along with other ROTC programs converged on Marquette University on a Friday to participate in the test. 

The first test given was the medic test. In this test, a team of four soldiers were tasked with providing medical care under fire, moving a casualty to safety, and assessing the casualty in safety. They were graded on how well they moved to causality, if they provided the correct care, how they moved the causality, proper tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) and proper filling out of a TCCC card. 

Second, on the list of tests was a swim and gear ditch test. Soldiers simply had to swim 100 meters in under 4 minutes. After completing the swim, the soldier would then have to ditch his blouse and pants and come out of the water with them in their hands. 

After the swim test, the cadets and cadre member went out to eat at the Branded Steer for some delicious food and great company. 

The next four tests were conducted the next day. Soldiers had to run 1000 meters, complete a 10-meter shuttle run 11 times, and complete a flexed arm hang. The faster the soldier ran and the longer the soldier held onto the bar the more points the soldier gained. Next was the marksmanship test. Soldiers familiarized themselves with the M9 pistol and then went to the range. They were tasked with shooting 3 targets with 5 bullets. Each target had to be hit and every bullet needed to hit a target to achieve maximum points. 

The final event was on Sunday morning, a ruck march. Soldiers competing for the gold medal did 7.5 miles in 2 hours, silver did 5.6 miles in 1.5 hours, and bronze did 3.5 miles in 1 hour. After the ruck march was the award ceremony were our cadets were awarded their medals for their hard work. 


SHARP Brief

April 9th 

Presenters referencing a slideshow during SHARP Brief

This spring semester, Michigan tech Army ROTC continues to strive to educate cadets on the reality of sexual harassment and assault in the military. As future Army officers, it is important for cadets to address issues like these early on in order to be prepared for the challenges ahead. 

The main SHARP (Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention) event this year was run by one of the university’s Title IX representative lab that covered sexual harassment/assault and equal opportunity. The cadets discussed the Army’s policy on these topics along with the reporting process for complaints and violations. The lab stressed the importance of Army officers to have the ability to recognize and respond properly to these types of situations. Although most of this information was not new to the majority of the cadets, it is very important for the first-year cadets who have not previously been exposed to SHARP training. 

Michigan tech Army ROTC takes SHARP training seriously and will continue to educate and prepare its cadets for success as leaders in the armed forces. 


Ranger Buddy Competition

Cadets with weapons in full uniform with gear hiking.

April 6 

Cadets Cameron Gregg, Kyle Blaedow, Bernadette Spezia, Cheryl Johnson, Mark Wallach, and Lucas Catron represented Michigan Tech at its first-ever Ranger Buddy Competition in Lawrence, KS this weekend. The competition was fierce, and the course was grueling, but they did an outstanding job. 

Two-person teams from 46 colleges and universities in 19 states will compete at the 25th annual KU Army ROTC Ranger Buddy Competition at Rim Rock Farm, 2276 Burnett Lane, home of the Kansas Jayhawk cross country teams. 

Male, female, and co-ed teams participate in a series of challenges requiring physical skills, individual movement techniques, first aid tasks, weapons tasks, military reporting formats and more as they vie for the title of Best Ranger Buddy Team. 

The competition clock is continuous and begins with a 15-kilometer buddy team ruck march, which begins at 6 a.m. for the female and co-ed division and at 10 a.m. for the male divisions. Following the ruck march are basic skill tasks and a final 5-kilometer buddy run.