By Michelle Schoening
The Cyclone Battalion achieved high honors at this summer’s Leadership Development and Assessment Course in Fort Lewis, Wash.
Twenty-seven cadets from Iowa State, Grandview, Buena Vista and Drake, which make up the Cyclone Battalion, took part in this summer’s LDAC.
During the 29 day course, cadets were assessed on their leadership ability, performance with small and large units, land navigation, physical fitness, administrative challenges and an additional 17 dimensional attributes.
Cadets must also be able to react as leaders by completing the Field Leader’s Reaction course. The course is an obstacle that requires an in-depth thinking process which assesses cadets’ ability to be an agile and adaptive leader.
The Cyclone Battalion triumphed during the overall category at LDAC. The battalion received the highest Army physical fitness test, with a score of 292.40 out of a possible 300 points, for the second year in a row.
“It speaks volumes of our program and how we perform as athletes,” said Steven Brown, cadet battalion commander and senior in finance.
The battalion also had 44 percent of the cadets receive an overall E ranking, which means they exceeded the standard. Also, 37 percent of the cadets were top five in their platoon.
Each platoon contains roughly 48 cadets from across the country. Additionally, 10 out of the 27 were ranked in the top 10 percent in the organization.
This final grade is determined primarily by their leadership evaluations, but also by two peer evaluations, their physical training score, their GPA, land navigation score and a teacher, assessor and coach evaluation.
Throughout the course, cadets are assessed by captains, lieutenants and noncommission officers from around the country.
“These cadets have bought into the program. They bought into the culture of excellence, the culture of success and they want to do well,” said Lt. Richard Smith, professor and chairman of military science and tactics.
The cadets go through training and preparation throughout their freshman, sophomore and junior years.
“I was more prepared than I was expecting,” said Amanda Veen, senior in interdisciplinary studies. “When I got there it wasn’t as challenging for us as other schools because we were so prepared. I felt confident when I went there because I had the training that I did.”
During the junior year for military science, third-year cadets conduct and implement the program constructed by the fourth-year cadets.
Junior-year cadets form skills such as sound judgment, mental adjustment and resilience, which are evaluated at LDAC. They have physical training four times a week, class twice a week and conduct labs.
Located in Pammel Woods every Wednesday, the labs teach first- and second-year cadets basic infantry tactics: battle drills, land navigation, field training exercises, and how to conduct an ambush at both squad and platoon sizes.
“At the labs, the [third-year] cadets become subject matter experts on how to conduct a battle drill,” said Jonathan Lazo, senior in political science. “So they can affirm that they understand it by teaching it to the [first- and second-year] cadets.”
Cadets are mentored by a “teach, advise, counsel” officer, who gives them comments and feedback, Lazo said.
Not only do the juniors conduct lab courses for the first- and second-year cadets, but they also conduct the Military Science 150 course which is open to all ISU students.
“[The third-years] stand up in front of the MS 150 and conduct 220-plus kids,” Smith said. “You’ll have kids go to camp from smaller camps that don’t get to stand out in front of 20 people. It’s just a great opportunity we have here at Iowa State.”
Training prior to the LDAC consists of attention to detail in order for cadets to enter camp prepared.
The LDAC’s purpose, Smith said, is for cadets to leave LDAC with a better knowledge and the ability to be agile and adaptive as leaders.
“It’s like being with three professors for 29 days. They tend to know you, you talk with them and get their experience,” Brown said. “It helps you build as a leader and provides a challenge for you physically mentally and emotionally.”
As cadets graduate from Iowa State, they hope that their experiences will help them during their military careers.
“The leadership skills I have acquired from it, the relationships I have established, I’ve jumped out of planes, repelled out of helicopters, I’ve climbed mountains in Alaska, ” Lazo said. “Overall it has made me a better person, and it doesn’t stop here.”