Despite a global pandemic, the readiness of the Nation’s Army is still necessary. Army officers are required and ensuring the excellence of officers calls for rigorous and specific training. With this in mind, the Army ROTC is currently operating with a combination of virtual and in-person training environments. While virtual training is important for risk mitigation, it is impossible to sufficiently train an officer fully online. Therefore, in-person practicals that adhere to local, state, and national COVID-19 regulations are still necessary.
While UCI has transitioned to a remote campus, the Army ROTC was given an exception that allows in-person meetings to conduct physical training, tactical field training, and classroom instruction for certain portions of the school year. All training events are conducted according to proper guidance, protocols, and mitigations. For instance, all cadets, cadre, and soldiers are strictly required to maintain the six-feet physical distance standard. Additionally, all members of each training event are mandated to wear masks and disinfect objects and surfaces whenever possible.
Normal physical training is still conducted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with each day corresponding to a particular workout. Mondays are cardiovascular days consisting of three- to four-mile runs. Wednesdays are led by the Platoon Sergeant and consist of high-intensity interval training. Finally, Fridays consist of long and arduous ruck marches. Cadets are held to the physical army standard and are expected to train for and pass all army physical fitness tests. The objective of ROTC physical training is to have all cadets perform proficiently at the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which requires cadets to perform deadlifts, power throws, push-ups, drags, leg tucks, and a two-mile run consecutively.
In-person classes are conducted in the Anteater Learning Pavilion several days a week, and tactical field labs are held on Thursdays at pre-determined locations. Classroom instruction focuses on leadership skills and traits, combat tactics, and the administrative staff duties of an officer. Tactical field labs are designed to teach cadets the hands-on skills the Army depends on, including drill and ceremony, individual movement techniques, land navigation, urban orienteering, and so on.
During the week, cadets are encouraged to participate in ROTC extracurricular activities, such as Color Guard, and to stay within their respective social pods to prevent community spread. On weekends, cadets are sent out to practice field training exercises, basic rifle marksmanship, and land navigation at different military bases, such as at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Fort Irwin National Training Center.
In-person training is necessary and important for a potential Army Officer. However, the safety and health of our soldiers remain the utmost priority. While the pandemic has introduced challenges, it has also reminded ROTC training staff and senior leadership of the importance of adaptability and perseverance in an unpredictable environment. The U.S. Army adapts to and overcomes whatever is necessary and challenging—always and forever, we will fight to protect our nation.