Every summer, select collegiate students interested in pursuing a contract or scholarship through the Reserve Officer Training Corps are afforded an opportunity to attend the Leader’s Training Course at Fort Knox, Ky.

The soldiers of the 2nd “Steel Dragon” Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are responsible for developing these future American soldiers who will eventually commission and serve as officers.

The proponent of this training is the United States Army Cadet Command.

The Steel Dragon Battalion, along with supplemental personnel from units within the brigade, will train cadet candidates through a rotation of cycles starting from early June to mid-August.

Each cycle consists of a new company of cadet candidates going through the rigors of combat water survival training, waterborne obstacles, basic rifle marksmanship, squad situational training exercise lanes, tactics certification, rappelling certification, stream-crossing and a climbing complex confidence course.

“Most of these cadets will shoot, move and communicate for the first time in their lives and that will give them a first impression of what is expected out of all soldiers within the Army,” said 1st Lt. Kathleen Minor, of the battalion. “Thus, the Steel Dragons have an instrumental responsibility in shaping the cadets’ future in the Army.”

The main effort of the training is to induce stress through challenging scenarios meant to test the trainees and help them overcome their fears by making decisions outside their comfort zones.

“The four weeks of training will build the confidence needed to successfully perform once in the ROTC program and eventually during the leadership development and assessment course as prescribed by the U.S. Army Cadet Command,” Minor said.

This mission has multiple safety and training requirements, which Steel Dragon soldiers had to complete. The soldiers successfully completed lifeguard certification classes, hazmat classes and ammunition awareness courses.

Once all soldiers from the Steel Dragon Battalion and augmenting units have arrived to Fort Knox, they will gain further certification in their respective training scenarios in order to safely supervise and train the cadets on a multitude of tasks, including the proper use of improvised flotation devices, body posture and positions while descending a tower, movement in a formation, reaction to direct and indirect fire and much more.

“The Steel Dragons will enable these future soldiers to uphold the soldier’s creed as they train to be proficient in their warrior tasks and drills, and they strive for a seamless transition into the profession of arms,” Minor said.

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