On April 30, BYU-Idaho’s Army ROTC conducted a simulated raid to kill or capture three high-value enemy targets.
The targets were camped along the Teton River. The cadets were successful in securing the targets.
The raid was part of “Operation Watergames,” a training exercise in which the ROTC cadets were able to practice conducting waterborne operations in preparation for this year’s summer training camp.
Greg Wilson, a BYU-I ROTC instructor, said 10 cadets from BYU-I’s Army ROTC began Operation Watergames April 30 at 7 a.m. in the William F. Rigby Hall with a planning meeting.
In addition to planning out the day’s events, the cadets were given a short lesson on Army water operations by ROTC instructor Capt. Uriah Watkins of the United States Army.
Before the cadets were able to begin the operation, Capt. Watkins ran them through some physical training with their rubber rafts.
He led the cadets through different exercises that consisted of lifting, pressing and using the rafts to do pushups.
“It was a learning experience,” said Jeremy Fackrell, a junior studying health science.
When Capt. Watkins’ training exercise finished, the cadets began their journey down river.
Due to a three-hour time constraint, they kept their rafts moving at a quick pace down the shallow, slow river.
The cadets were divided into two rubber rafts and given different assignments based on the earlier training Capt. Watkins had given them.
Capt. Watkins said each raft’s crew was divided into oarsmen, navigators and coxswains. Oarsmen paddle the boats, navigators ensure they arrive at the correct destination, and coxswains are in charge of their respective boats.
Because of the shallowness of the river, the rafts were, on occasion, held up on sandbars and barely submerged rocks. Leaders among the cadets addressed the problems by moving the cadets to positions where they were able to better maneuver around the obstacles.
Conversations stopped as they came closer to their goal and prepared to land their boats.
When they landed, some of the cadets quietly took defensive positions while others took a knee around their leaders for last-minute instructions.
When they had finished their last minute preparations, the 10 cadets headed off into the brush along the river bank.
After hiking for about 15 minutes, they came upon a small clearing where the three enemy targets, portrayed by other ROTC members, were camped. The order was given to halt and form up into assault positions.
A signal was given to begin the raid.
The cadets burst into the clearing, yelling “bang bang” to simulate gunfire. Two of the targets were immediately secured, and it remains unclear if the third escaped or was “killed.”
After the operation was complete, the cadets gathered around a campfire to roast hot dogs and receive feedback on how the operation went.
“We worked predominantly on teamwork and leadership,” Capt. Watkins said. “Helping our cadets learn how to effectively control a small unit to accomplish a complex mission.”
Capt. Watkins said ROTC is a program open for everyone to try, but that it is a highly competitive, professional program with high standards.
“It is very applicable, even outside of the United States Army,” said Michael Aldas, a senior studying history. “Even if someone does Guard or Reserve and continues their professional career outside, they can be very successful combining the two.”
According to the BYU-I ROTC website, the ROTC is one of the country’s top leadership programs.