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NMSU AFROTC cadets excel at summer field training

New Mexico State University Air Force ROTC cadets are standing out at their field training exercises this summer at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Air Force ROTC cadets ready the M-16 firing line at Camp Shelby, Miss., Joint Forces Training Center. Cadets receive a variety of expeditionary skills training while working in a simulated deployed environment. (Photo courtesy Steve Groll)

The Congressionally mandated training event is part of the cadets' commissioning curriculum. Once cadets return from this capstone event, they are required to formally contract with AFROTC within 10 days or opt out of going any further in the program.

"We have had four cadets attend and return already. Each of them finished in the top third of their flight," Detachment 505 Commander Lt. Col. Steve Groll said. "We have three cadets attending currently and one more that will leave on July 17 for her training."

Groll said over the past few years, field training slots have become extremely competitive. This year, there were almost 3,000 cadets competing for about 2,200 openings. NMSU sent eight cadets to participate in the training.

The field training will begin at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Ala. They'll spend two weeks there in a "garrison" type setting, and then leave for Camp Shelby, Miss., Joint Forces Training Center where they will focus on expeditionary skills training. While in Mississippi, they will live in tents and spend much of their time in the field learning critical skills on which the war fighters and combatant commanders place great value.

Groll explained toward the end of the cadets' time at JFTC, they are challenged with a multi-day exercise that challenges every aspect of their learning.

"This training is the closest we can come to simulating life in a deployed environment for the cadets," Groll said. "We even load them on military aircraft and airlift them to and from the JFTC."

Excelling at summer field training isn't something new for NMSU AFROTC. Last year, a cadet was selected to return this summer as a Cadet Training Assistant.

"He was the number one cadet in his flight last year," Groll said. "The top performers from each camp are normally asked to return the following year and lend some of their expertise to help train."

For more information on the Air Force ROTC program at NMSU, contact Lt. Col. Groll at 575-646-2136 or visit them on Facebook.