For this year’s training exercise, UCLA, CSUN and Fresno State ROTC cadets traveled to Camp Roberts, a military camp just north of San Luis Obispo. Cadets from the three schools worked together to accomplish missions and navigate the landscape.
Third-year environmental science major Ryan Distaso (left) takes notes as Platoon leader Ryan Ashburn (right), a third-year criminology student at California State University, Fresno, models the mission’s route.
Jacob Duncan (left), a third-year anthropology student, relays the mission plan to cadets guarding the edge of the patrol base.
James Phillips (right), a third-year criminology student at Fresno State, and Adam Clarke (left), a second-year kinesiology student at Fresno State, get on the ground as an explosive whistled through the air before falling into their patrol base.
Cadet Ashburn orders his platoon to pack up quickly and start moving following the explosion. As platoon leader, it was his job to make decisions to ensure the mission ran as smoothly as possible.
Second-year Fresno State industrial technology student Hugh Kimbrough grips his 15-pound M249 SAW as the platoon hiked over a hill towards their final destination. By the end of the day, the platoon had climbed 50 floors of elevation.
To complete their mission, cadets had to find and trek to a location marked by coordinates. With extremely heavy rucksacks weighing them down, as well as periodic stops to check progress, it took hours for cadets to reach their final destination.
Each mission ends with a battle against oppositional forces. Fourth-year Fresno State criminology student Tyler Tietjen wrapped a patterned scarf around his head while he portrayed the enemy.
Oppositional Force member Sean Andrews, a fourth-year history student at CSUN, prepares to hop out of the van. Oppositional forces walked the rest of the way to the platoon’s hiding place, using the accompanying vans as coverage during the attack.
Hannah Lambert, a third-year criminology student at Fresno State, stares down the barrel of her gun as the enemy caravan approached.
Third-year political science student Christian Amador carries second-year political science student Andrew Aldaz out of harm’s way. A fourth-year cadet overseeing the mission told Aldaz to pretend he was severely wounded after the opposition fired in his general direction.
After the mission, third-year environmental science student Ryan Distaso rests and reflects on the platoon’s performance during the after-action review. During the review session, cadets were encouraged to consider their strengths and weaknesses as individuals and members of a team.
Anticipating rainfall overnight, first-year cadets learn how to use their rain ponchos to shelter themselves as they slept. While second and third-year students embarked on more complicated missions, first-year students focused on the basics of navigation, teamwork and survival.
A van’s headlights shines through the otherwise dark camp headquarters.
Alfredo Hernandez (left), a fourth-year criminology major at Fresno State, stands guard as Brian Shih, a second-year financial actuarial mathematics student, crosses an open road. This road was highly visible and considered to be a “linear danger area,” or a road that is vulnerable to enemy observation or fire, so cadets had to move swiftly across to avoid being seen.
Third-year Fresno State biology student Miranda Ellis found a tree to sit under as rain started to fall on the patrol base.
Platoon leader Grayson Makris (center), a third-year geography major, leads a reconnaissance mission through the pouring rain to gather intelligence on an enemy camp.
Second-year Fresno State criminology major Steven Ringgold peers through the grass from his hiding place and gets ready to ambush the enemy camp. The camouflage face paint helped make cadets even more discreet as they crawled through the terrain.
Cadet Makris orders his platoon to keep moving as two enemies surprise them by descending upon the cadets from the opposite direction.
An injured cadet leans on the shoulders of his peers as they help him move back to the patrol base after the ambush. Cadets were instructed not to leave anyone behind regardless of their degree of injury.
Cadet Edwin Chang, a fourth-year environmental studies and geography student, tries his hand at firing an M4 rifle on its automatic setting at the Camp Roberts firing range.
Cadets were given hours of safety instruction before they were allowed to operate rifles. After safety training, they worked on accuracy by learning how to control their breathing and maintain steady aim.
First-year students Erin Jannusch and Darien Reyes watch as Captain Rich Headley show them how to use cotton swabs to thoroughly clean the carbon build-up out of their guns.
Cadets work into the night to clean their guns as thoroughly as possible. It took five to eight hours for most to clean their guns to the captains’ satisfaction, but they were rewarded with pizza afterward.