The ROTC program at UCI provides leadership development to future leaders of the US Army with a model designed around the Army’s structure. Each year, a lucky few get a glimpse of the real deal by spending time in Army units around the globe with the US Army’s Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT). This year, Cadet Chelsea Bozarth was selected to train with a Lieutenant from Delta Forward Support Company, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Polk, LA in order to enhance her leadership skills.

The Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) program provides Cadets the opportunity to experience leadership in Army units over a three to four-week period. Cadets serve in lieutenant-level leadership positions in active-duty units. Platoon Leader positions have a 3-4 week duration depending on the hosting unit and location. Assignments include units that are located CONUS and OCONUS. Cadets are assigned a unit mentor and are provided on-post lodging and meals via a Dining Facility. This program is exclusively designed for MS III Cadets before and after completion of Advanced Camp.

Below is a first-hand account of Cadet Chelsea Bozarth’s experience at Cadet Troop Leader Training in Fort Polk, LA. 

“Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) gave me leadership training by working alongside a 1st Lieutenant from the Army’s Logistics branch, and his platoon. This provided me valuable insight into the process of my potential branch and what needs to be done to complete the missions a logistics unit is tasked with. Working with other individuals of different backgrounds has strengthened my inclusivity to other cultures and allowed me to practice my teamwork skills. Coming in as a third-year cadet (MSIII), CTLT has helped me visualize how important the success of each mission is to contribute to an overall goal.

Conducting physical training (PT) in the hot & humid weather of Fort Polk, LA helped improve my physical fitness. It was a new experience for me and physically demanding. Many of the soldiers in the platoon were faster than me during runs which made me lose some self-esteem but they were all supportive of me. I realized how quickly the body acclimates to adverse climate conditions when my time improved each day we had a long-distance run. Experiencing this weather was a good introduction to what the weather will be like when I go to Advanced Camp in Fort Knox, KY next summer. 

It was very intimidating to be around active-duty U.S. Army soldiers and meeting high-ranking officers. I felt the feeling of imposter syndrome for a few days because I was shadowing an active-duty unit when my plan is to commission into the California Army National Guard. The Lieutenant’s I was with and their Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) assured me that I deserved to be there and that leadership training is not exclusive to future active-duty officers. 

One of the most important lessons I learned from CTLT is to take care of your soldiers. It is the overall responsibility of the officers in the army to make sure that their soldiers are squared away and have the resources they need to succeed. Since I am now an MSIII cadet, I will take the valuable leadership lessons I learned at Fort Polk and apply them with my subordinate cadets in UCI’s Army ROTC program.”