Capt. Cory Chatigny, an officer in charge for the ROTC program at BYU-Idaho, broke down what it’s like to be part of this event and part of the ROTC.
Q: What did you do at your annual training event?
A: We left on the 21st of March and went to Camp Williams in Utah. My junior cadets go to Fort Knox during summer, so it’s a chance to give them a realistic training of what they’re going to have at Fort Knox during the summer. (During the training), we did land navigation. We gave them certain points they had to go find out in the woods, some at night time, some in groups of two to three. After that, we did tactical lanes, which is when they form up in cult squads which are formations of up to nine to 110 cadets. We give them a mission such as, ‘We have bad guys at this location we need you to attack them.’ We had paint gun balls. We had masks. They were actually able to shoot each other safely. After that, we went into platoon lanes — bigger formations of about 30 cadets per formation — so just more training, a little bit harder tactical objective with farther movements where they’re going half a mile carrying all their weapons wearing their paintball masks and kind of attacking an objective that they had.
Q: What were some of your favorite moments?
A: It was seeing the development of these kids. About a quarter of my students have been through basic training or are in the national guard or the army reserve. For the other students that haven’t done much, most of them have gone on missions and some of them haven’t. They’ve just gotten out of high school and now they’re in college, so they haven’t pushed themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. They were going to bed around 10-11 at night and we were waking them up at 3 in the morning. There were sometimes where they set up something called a patrol base which is kind of like a circular formation to make sure bad guys don’t come into the area, so for them, it’s called 33 percent security, so someone’s up during the night. There are at least five people up there getting woken up, being forced to stay awake for an hour maybe getting to go back to sleep. If not, they’re going straight on the mission for most of them. They maybe got seven hours of sleep from Thursday to Sunday morning, so not much sleep. It pushed them harder than they’ve ever been pushed before.
Q: How much does this training prepare them for the future?
A: A lot, that’s really the easiest way to say it. When they’re at Fort Knox, they’ll be there for roughly 30 days. They’ll get a bunch of training where they have to do rappelling, water stuff, Physical training physical fitness test, land navigation. What they’re going to get graded on the most are their leadership capabilities which have to do with these tactical lanes that they have to do. We can’t really simulate Fort Knox, Kentucky. It’s very humid there, very hot, and it’ll be in the summer, so it’ll be up to 90-100 degrees plus the humidity. But what we didn’t have in heat, we made up for in elevation. They had a very mountainous terrain. They had to walk up, so for being located in Idaho, it was the most realistic expectation we could have had besides actually going to Kentucky.
Q: So where do you see the future of the ROTC going?
A: We are the biggest program in Idaho. I’m in charge of the program just at BYU-I. My boss works at Boise State University. We are sitting at roughly 106 cadets in the program. Boise State is at roughly 65, so there’s a large difference between the two. The other programs are at Boise, BYU-I, Idaho State and Northwest Nazarene University which is located near Boise. We are the biggest one, so we are hoping in the next five years to be a host program where we have our own entity here, we don’t have to report to Boise State, I just have to report to whoever is put in charge of here, and that would mean more money for the school.
Those wishing to find out more about the ROTC can visit their office in the William F. Rigby Building.