The life of a CTA is much different from the life of a cadet going through field training. We sleep less, take on more responsibility and we positively influence the lives of the cadets in the flights we are assigned to. Being a CTA was one of the best experiences, as well as the most challenging. I had to be an expert in every area of field training: the Field Training manual, D&C manual and Holm Center Training Manual. My flight was not going to get away with deficiencies in these important documents. My goal as a CTA was to clearly communicate strict standards, adhere to those standards throughout all of field training and earn respect from the cadets in my flight.
I arrived to a sunny and humid Maxwell Air Force Base on 6 July, one week prior to the arrival of the other 378 cadets who would soon embark on their 28-day training. Throughout the week, the staff, including all of the CTAs, flight commanders, NCOs and “top eight” staff went through every training aspect of field training. We conducted mock room inspections, open ranks inspections, a PFA and became familiar with the activities that would take place at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC).
TD-0 is almost a blur. Frantic cadets, rain and lightning, drenched uniforms, extremely late arrivals and lost luggage. It was an intense first night at field training. On the first official day of field training, my flight, like most flights was unable to make it to PT. They couldn’t change into another uniform in less than seven minutes, no one knew where the dining facility was, and everyone was late to the Field Training Commanders brief. The hardest part for me during these first few days was not telling my cadets the correct answer. I had to bite my tongue numerous times because I just wanted them to do everything right, but I wouldn’t be an effective CTA if I did that. Field Training is designed for a cadet to adapt to different situations and to make decisions quick on your feet. I made sure to be highly engaged in all training activities my cadets participated in. The cadets in my flight thought I was everywhere at once.
Exactly nine days after the cadets arrived at Maxwell, the entire field training unit hopped aboard a C-17 and flew to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to endure a two-week mock deployment at Camp Shelby. My job as a CTA was to keep the intensity level up, while maintaining the high standards that were set at Maxwell. Mississippi was not a time to get lazy or start thinking of home. It was a time to embrace the challenges and start conforming as one field training unit.
I was extremely proud of everyone in my flight. They all came to field training as 24 individuals but left as one cohesive team. They knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and used that to their advantage when they performed different challenges. I truly believe everyone in my flight will be successful officers in the future and will use the tools they learned at field training to train the next set of GMC cadets. Not only did I get to see my cadets grow, but I was also able to witness cadets from Det 685 grow within their flight as well. It was a great experience to see everyone overcome struggles and step out of their comfort zone.