(CAMP ATTERBURY) - It's some of the most realistic training a college student is likely to receive. That training was part of a very busy weekend at Camp Atterbury.
"They look at this weekend as more of an evaluation of their skills, of their abilities," says Cadet Maj. Kegan Wisehart, from Purdue University.
Zac Myers, of Fox, reports around 540 ROTC cadets from 14 different Indiana colleges and universities spent the weekend at Camp Atterbury to test their skills, and learn new ones. The rounds in the M-16s are blank, but pulling the trigger feels, sounds and even smells real. That realism is the goal.
"You're living in a tent. You gotta go out in the field, you get up at 4 in the morning every day," says Cadet Lt. Colonel Clayton Lawson, from Purdue University.
The training is designed to take the cadets out of the college campus atmosphere, and immerse them in round-the-clock exercises.
Aside from combat, they are also learning logistics and navigation, like being alone in the woods with only a map, a compass and a protractor to complete several objectives.
"It's kind of a confidence boost. If you're able to do that by yourself then you have all the confidence in the world in yourself to do other things," says Wisehart.
Obstacle courses evaluate physical skills, while force on force exercises evaluate calm under pressure.
For younger cadets, the exercises let them test their own abilities. Still, it is the seniors who are running the show.
"We're sort of coordinating the training, keeping track of all the moving pieces and all the cadets," says Cadet Colleen Gallagher, from Butler University.
That ability to lead is what the upper classmen are being evaluated on as they prepare for graduation. Their next step will be into the active military.
"It forces them to manage resources," begins Lt. Colonel Jerry Hubbard, of the Purdue ROTC. "Not just I'm going to go out and walk a lane. Who's with me? How many people do I have with me? What kind of resources do I have in the squad?"
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org