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Cadet command develops solid leaders.

EVERY year the Army makes brand-new second lieutenants, whose job it becomes to lead American Soldiers. About 6,500 young men and women will become Army officers this year, most of them through the Army's ROTC programs at colleges and universities around the country.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command's Leader Development and Assessment Course, also known as Operation Warrior Forge, is held each summer from June to August at Joint Base Lewis-Mc-Chord, Wash. The course is an Armydirected prerequisite for commissioning, and is the single point of common training and assessment for every ROTC cadet who hopes to become an officer.

"We know that the leaders we develop here could be leading Soldiers in combat within 12 months of being commissioned," said Col. Charles Evans, commander of the course and of Cadet Command's 8th Brigade, which is headquartered at Lewis-McChord. Evans is responsible for the yearlong planning and execution cycle of LDAC.

"We take our responsibility for the development of future officers very seriously, and we understand how it contributes to the Army's mission," Evans said. "The course sets leadership standards for the future Army officer corps. This is an important function for the sustainment of the institutional Army that reinforces the reason this is an Army-level mission."

Packed with Army doctrine-based training and assessments, LDAC is principally focused on developing young leaders and ensuring those who are about to become lieutenants are qualified to do so. The event is a decisive element of the future Army leader's career.

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Lieutenant Col. Brian Rogers sees that each cadre and staff member undergoes a validation process, so the entire supporting cast has an appreciation for what cadets experience. Rogers, formerly a professor of military science at the University of Washington in Seattle, is the chief of training and runs the planning cell for the mission.

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More than 3,500 cadre and staff members support the course across the bustling 90,000-acre military base. The support teams comprise leaders from across the Army: active duty, Reserve, National Guard, civil service employees and civilian contractors. In addition, dozens of agencies at Joint Base Lewis-McChord provide crucial resources to support the training.

"LDAC provides our Army the opportunity to assess and evaluate leadership performance and potential," Rogers said. "The leader development process we use involves goal-oriented training in both technical and leadership skills, along with assessments and constructive feedback.

"Lessons learned during each assessment are used to redefine goals and structure future training for each cadet. Cadre within Cadet Command are trained in this process, maximizing their ability to coach and mentor cadets to continuous achievement, resulting in a professional, technically competent apprentice Army officer who possesses the self-confidence necessary to adapt on the modern battlefield," Rogers added.

In all, more than 7,100 cadets will attend LDAC this summer, the largest number since the course's inception. Cadets come from more than 1,300 colleges and universities nationwide, and reflect the diversity of the country.

As a result of the variety of Army ROTC entry options, cadets coming to LDAC range in age from 18 to 24. Some are only one year out of high school, while others are prior enlisted Soldiers who are seasoned combat veterans. Some are freshmen; some are advanced degree students. Most are between their junior and senior years of college. Cadets who have met all other degree and commissioning requirements may find LDAC to be their final hurdle before becoming lieutenants, and they may be commissioned on the parade field during the LDAC graduation ceremony.

The course also instills a sense of accomplishment and confidence in the cadets' ability to lead, and is one of the earliest experiences of true esprit de corps for these future Soldiers.

Having the support of battle buddies throughout the mental and physical stress of the LDAC is priceless, according to cadets. That support propelled Caleb Pearl across obstacles he may have mentally shied away from on his own. Pearl, from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., finished LDAC in 2010.

"Every time I started to doubt myself or get psyched out, I leaned on my team and they supported me--clapping and shouting and encouraging me," Pearl said. "It gave me the confidence to grab my gear and keep moving."

Jeremy O'Brayan works at U.S. Army Cadet Command.
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Author:O'Bryan, Jeremy
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:719
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