Members of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s ROTC, Benjamin Pelc (front), Mike Toczyski (back, from left), Aaron Kraus and Derek Kumrow, learn battle drills at the Whitewater National Guard Armory Oct. 31. During the field exercise the cadets are equipped with battle gear. The weapons they carry are officially called “demilitarized M16s” but informally referred to as “rubber ducks” because they are made primarily of hard rubber. (Tom Ganser photo)

By Tom Ganser


Cadets in the Warhawk Battalion of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or ROTC received introductory training for standard Battle Drills Oct. 31 at the Whitewater National Guard Armory.

“If you think of training as learning to crawl, then walk, then run, this is the crawl stage,” said Mick Nyenhuis, Senior Military Science Instructor.

“Battle drills are standard tactical actions that serve as the basis for infantry maneuvers, Nyenhuis explained.  “In essence we have four standard missions, Squad Attack, Reconnaissance, Ambush and Movement to Contact. All infantry tactical missions we train the cadets to perform are variations on these four.”

After classroom instruction, senior cadets demonstrated walk through of a standard STX (Situational Training Exercise) that requires a squad to move under simulated combat conditions from their current location to another location called the objective.

The exercise begins in an “assembly area” where the squad leader receives and plans a mission to move the squad safely to an objective in order to attack an enemy force by either conducting a raid or ambush, or to observe enemy forces to learn more about their position and activities. The squad then completes the mission.

The UW-Whitewater Warhawk Battalion ROTC program currently services 41 students. Twenty of those students are “contracted cadets” who have taken an oath to accept a commission as an Army officer after graduation.

The other 21 students are in the process of meeting qualifications for contracting:  meeting medical qualifications for service in the Armed Forces, passing the Army Physical Fitness Test, maintaining a grade point average above 2.0 and preferably over 2.5 on at least 30 college credit hours, and exhibiting the moral and ethical character that the American people expect of their military leaders, according to Nyenhuis.

“In more practical terms,” Nyenhuis said, meeting contract qualifications means “staying out of trouble, demonstrating good judgment and the ability to follow directions, and being trustworthy.”