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Public Affairs : USMA Cadre leads CCBT

USMA cadre leads cadet candidates through CCBT 

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
Staff Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2014) — Two hundred thirty-four cadet candidates entered the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School July 21 for Cadet Candidate Basic Training and committed to a one-year program of basic military training, military science and academics.

Out of the 234 cadet candidates, 44 are prior service and 15 of those are combat veterans. Nearly 200 are male, 37 female, 112 African-American, 12 Hispanic and three Native Americans. One hundred three cadet candidates are recruited athletes.

USMAPS prepares selected candidates from the U.S. Military Academy Admissions Office with a foundation to help guide the candidates through the rigors of the academic, physical and military challenges of West Point. Cadet candidates are either high school graduates or enlisted personnel from the active, reserve or National Guard forces.

“I was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school,” Cadet Candidate Austin Neumann from Fort Bliss, Texas, said. Neumann is also a prior service Soldier, but Reception Day at USMAPS was something of a surprise to him.

“It was a shocker, compared to reception week,” Neumann said, “I liked the military and wanted to go further and I’m enjoying getting back into it.”

Cadet Candidate Robert Gipson II from Las Vegas said he always wanted to go into the military.

“I was inspired by my father who is a retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant,” Gipson said. “He likes the idea of me going into the Army, but he’s expecting me to transition into the Marines after graduation, but I don’t think I will. West Point has the most traditions and even though I respect all the services, being at USMAPS is a great opportunity and I wanted to take advantage of that. West Point is a special place; I can already feel it.”

Cadet candidates began their three-week CCBT July 26 at the LZ Owl for medical readiness training. The CCBT battalion commander, Class of 2015 Cadet Leo St. Amour, and his cadre spent three weeks training cadet candidates on land navigation, medical readiness and other military-related training.

As a battalion commander, St. Amour not only had responsibility for training cadet candidates, he was also responsible for his cadre.

“This is by far the largest number of people who I have personally been responsible for,” St. Amour said. “When the cadet candidates first reported, I was a bit overwhelmed about maintaining accountability and making sure that everyone is being safe. However, when we got into the groove of things, I felt confident that my cadre would be able to train them effectively.”

St. Amour said it is his and his cadre’s hope that they have exposed the cadet candidates to a military lifestyle, improved their confidence and self-discipline and have set them up for success this academic year.

“As a leader, I gave my subordinates the freedom to run their companies how they see fit,” St. Amour said. “I gave them my guidance and intent and let them make their own decisions on how to execute. I did intervene when necessary to make sure that the battalion is still able to function and that everyone is operating safely.” 

Cadet candidates practice medical evacuations at LZ Owl during Cadet Candidate Basic Training July 26.
A cadre of U.S Military Academy cadets spent three weeks training cadet candidates on land navigation, medical readiness and other military-related training. The cadre also planned and executed the Reception Day to in-process the 234 cadet candidates for the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School.

Maj. Peter Salfeety, battalion tactical officer and Class of 2004 West Point graduate, was at the training field to see how everything was going.

“It’s going well,” Salfeety said. “They start with a clean slate and the cadet cadre helps them learn what right looks like and different Soldier skills to help them prepare for West Point.”

USMAPS Commandant Lt. Col. John Cross was also impressed with the cadre. Although July 26 was the first day of training, the cadet cadre ran Reception Day, which took hours to prepare and even longer to process the cadet candidates, teaching them to march, take orders and study from the Cadet Candidate Handbook.

The long day culminated with the oath ceremony on the USMAPS football field.

“The cadre has been doing this since July 6 and they hit the ground running,” Cross said.

It’s a two-way street with the cadre because they not only teach and mentor the cadet candidates, but they also learn leadership skills.

“The cadre also assesses leadership qualities for leader positions (within the cadet candidates,)” Cross said.

After completion of the three-week CCBT, the cadet cadre and cadet candidates will compete in the annual crucible challenge today, a military event that evaluates the teamwork, physical grit and military knowledge of the candidates.

“There has always been a culminating challenge at the end of CCBT,” Salfeety said. “However, last year was the first time the crucible event was named in honor of a fallen 50-year affiliate alumnus.”

“This year, the crucible event is named the Smith Challenge,” Salfeety explained. “It is named after 1st Lt. James L. Smith, a 1965 USMAPS graduate and a 1969 West Point graduate.”