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Old 07-06-2011   #1
Kevin23
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Default AROTC MSIII year

Long story short, I'll be heading into my MS3 year of AROTC in the fall and given how this is a crucial year in the program, I was wondering if anybody had any insights, hints/tips etc for me? Given the wide variety and experience of Army leadership here on Small Wars, in addition to the fact that many posters on here have been through the program.

I feel generally good on everything thus far. Although, I would consider landnav and physical fitness(especially running as my weaknesses) and I've also had trouble with keeping my rucksack workable/managable. Otherwise I feel fairly comfortable with tactics, terrain model kits etc.

However, I haven't been taking anything for granted and I've been reviewing/preparing for much of the summer.

If anybody could give me any insight, tips, or anything that would be great!

Thank you in advance!
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Old 07-06-2011   #2
randletr
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Default MSIII year

The 7-8 is 'just a guide.'


If you're thinking this far ahead, you'll be fine.

Also, don't say the 7-8 is just a guide!
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Old 07-06-2011   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randletr View Post
The 7-8 is 'just a guide.'


If you're thinking this far ahead, you'll be fine.

Also, don't say the 7-8 is just a guide!
To tell you the truth, I've mainly been using the interactive programs by 550 cord to study since I feel I get more out of it then digging through a field manual. Also I've been using my ROTC textbook as kind of an outline of what to study too.

So I feel like I'm making progress in this area through the above method.
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Old 07-10-2011   #4
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Default Ms iii

I would suggest working hard on the PT. A new 2LT is judged by his general fitness as much as anything else, when he arrives to his unit. In fact, at least when I went through OBC, PT was about the only thing a 2LT could expect to do well when he arrived at his first unit, given the quality of instruction then.

Don't focus too much on the APFT. Look at general rucking, running, and working with a load on. You don't have to be the biggest stud around (believe me, I sure ain't), but nobody wants a wimp for a PL.

If you hope to be combat arms or combat support, the land nav is also important. Do it alot to gain confidence. Try it without a compass, using just terrain association, if you have suitable terrain. This will help you at night, when feeling the slope of the land and seeing the silhouette of ridgelines can keep you on track even when you are not paying attention to your compass. But you need to be competent and comfortable, moving at night through terrain.

You need to be able to deliver a pretty decent oporder with very little for guides or notes. Practise, practise, practise. Create scenarios with fellow MSIIIs and execute a 5-para oporder, and have them critique it. Do the same for them - you can learn from their mistakes as well as yours. And do it with lots of time to add every detail, as well as in a time-constrained environment, where there is pressure to execute a good plan RIGHT NOW.

Finally, general academics - you have to graduate to get commissioned. Keep that in mind as you work toward your goal. It also is important for your position within your battalion as an MSIV. As an examble, I failed an optional class that I didn't need for graduation during my MSIII year. It was taking up too much time and I stopped attending. I should have been more deliberate in removing myself from the class, but that is another story. Point being, during the first half of my MSIII year, instead of being the S-3, I was just another senior, because of a 'drop-fail' on my academic record (that didn't even hurt my GPA very much).

Good luck.

Tankersteve
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Old 07-10-2011   #5
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I second my old comrade tankersteve.

Fail your classes and you will limit your options, as I put in a different thread. Looking back at long term effects my (low) undergraduate academic GPA impacted my options far more than any ROTC superlative that I spent inordinate amounts of time on. You need to graduate with a 3.0 or higher if you want to open some doors to cool jobs post-company command. I worked out well anyway, but it would have been nice to have been able to do some of the cool fellowships which require a decent academic record. By the time I corrected with grad school the window had closed for this.

Doing well at camp, again, recommend tankersteve's option. Learn to brief well. Get critiqued giving opords and plans. You don't have to be the fastest/strongest but you can't be the slowest or dumbest. Know the FM 7-8 tactics and battledrills. Develop some laminated OPORD/TLP cheat cards to carry in a small binder for field OPORDs.

Learn to delegate during MDMP. Assign roles and responsibilities to your peers for things like sandtables, rehearsals, note taking, etc. Being able to prioritize/deputize/supervise is key. When not in command/key leader, help others succeed and look good. It will pay off when you are in charge.

Although it has changed a lot in the 14 or so years since tankersteve and I were cadets, your branch selection comes down to GPA, camp performance, and your PMSs assessment of you. Allocate your time appropriately.
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Old 07-10-2011   #6
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Niel,

Good to hear from you. Hope you are enjoying your location. I am soon to be a month out of heading home.

Yes, it has been a long time since camp. As Niel said, help your peers out. One tip I remember, that may not be relevant, but take it for what it's worth.

Squad missions are a common building block before platoon missions. When you are only leading a squad, vice a platoon, you can pick 'weaker' peers to lead fire teams. It is only an Army squad, with just 2 fire teams, and much of what is going on, you can lead directly. This builds up some confidence in your 'weaker' peers, and makes you look like a good guy, getting them involved. They will be better for the experience, and hopefully work harder in and out of the leader posiitions when you need a hand.

The key to this is pick a stud for compass or pace counter. If you don't get to the objective, you are a fail right off the bat.

Now, as a platoon leader, I would pick stronger cadets for squad leader positions. A squad has to have a decent leader. Pace counter/compass is still pretty important.

Is this gaming the system? Maybe but making smart decisions when delegating and working with subordinates is something a new LT should be able to do.

PT, land nav, and academics are still real important. Read about Army stuff. Learn to shoot (it won't matter for branching, but no one wants the new LT who can't qualify with his weapon - get private instruction if you have to!) Have fun, and pay attention to the prior service guys (shameless plug). Don't listen to that crap about it doesn't matter what branch you serve in. It sure does! Branch Armor!

Tankersteve
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Old 07-11-2011   #7
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As much as I like to disagree with treadheads, both Cav Guy and Tanker Steve are spot on.

PT and land nav are critical functions for new LTs. Get your unit lost a coupla times and you'll be in a deep hole.

Go to the gym and start working on cardio and core strength. Because of the mountains here, part of my aerobic routine is to strap on a ruck and work the stairs. As I posted elsewhere, wish I had figured out the core strength thing while I was still humping a ruck for the Army. I now hump one for the county here in the mountains, and I can tell you that my ability to hump serious loads has increased markedly since going on a core routine.

Consider joining a local orienteering club if there is one. They make land nav and cardio fun. If there isn't a club, get a partner (never go into my backcountry solo) and just go out on public land and work on your skills.

Learned a neat OPORD trick in Ranger school (unofficially from an NCO, not part of POI): As you listen to/read the next higher order, plant excerpts from that order straight into yours -- you can edit later. Higher's para 2, mission, goes into your para 1, "mission of higher headquarters" Your unit's order in para 3 execution becomes your para 2 mission. Missions of other units usually slide into para 1 also, etc. Streamlines the MDMP so you have more time to focus on the important stuff. Of course, you all have probably changed the order into something that none of us old timers would recognize.

Second everything else posted earlier.
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Old 07-11-2011   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankersteve View Post
I would suggest working hard on the PT. A new 2LT is judged by his general fitness as much as anything else, when he arrives to his unit. In fact, at least when I went through OBC, PT was about the only thing a 2LT could expect to do well when he arrived at his first unit, given the quality of instruction then.

Don't focus too much on the APFT. Look at general rucking, running, and working with a load on. You don't have to be the biggest stud around (believe me, I sure ain't), but nobody wants a wimp for a PL.

If you hope to be combat arms or combat support, the land nav is also important. Do it alot to gain confidence. Try it without a compass, using just terrain association, if you have suitable terrain. This will help you at night, when feeling the slope of the land and seeing the silhouette of ridgelines can keep you on track even when you are not paying attention to your compass. But you need to be competent and comfortable, moving at night through terrain.

You need to be able to deliver a pretty decent oporder with very little for guides or notes. Practise, practise, practise. Create scenarios with fellow MSIIIs and execute a 5-para oporder, and have them critique it. Do the same for them - you can learn from their mistakes as well as yours. And do it with lots of time to add every detail, as well as in a time-constrained environment, where there is pressure to execute a good plan RIGHT NOW.

Finally, general academics - you have to graduate to get commissioned. Keep that in mind as you work toward your goal. It also is important for your position within your battalion as an MSIV. As an examble, I failed an optional class that I didn't need for graduation during my MSIII year. It was taking up too much time and I stopped attending. I should have been more deliberate in removing myself from the class, but that is another story. Point being, during the first half of my MSIII year, instead of being the S-3, I was just another senior, because of a 'drop-fail' on my academic record (that didn't even hurt my GPA very much).

Good luck.

Tankersteve
First off all Sir I want to thank you for the wealth of advice you have provided in this thread.

I did the MS 1 and 2 deal at my college since I started ROTC my second year of school having missed a year of it. Since the beginning I had a very hard time with PT, but I've made gradual improvement and I recently passed my PT with a 217 up from 130ish starting out. However, it needs to be much high then that. So I've been working hard over the summer to maintain and build more on what I've gained with an alternating workout of situps, pushups, pullups, and running.

I feel comfortable with how to do a terrain model kit/sandtable/Opords/TLPS overall. Squad and platoon tactics the same thing in terms of a general overview, however I feel I need to find a way to get more familiar with the details. And land nav I feel I should get out and practice beyond just using the programs I'm currently doing. Especially since I have a strong sense of direction.

Another thing I've had a hard time with along with PT and land nav is D&C, but I'm studying up on that alot also. Also I feel like land nav I need to be put in a position where I can get a chance to practice what I've been observing throughout my year in ROTC.

In terms of academics I currently have a 3.1. I had close to a 3.5 before the end of last semester, it went down because I didn't pay school enough attention as I should have during that time. I definitely want my GPA higher so I'm going to try to get into this coming semester with the goal of rebuilding my grade point average to it's former glory.

Branch-wise I'm aiming for MI as my top choice with Armored and MP as my second and third choices respectfully. And in this environment with talks of cuts, etc I feel I can't take anything for granted in terms of getting my top branch choice or active duty for that matter which is also far from guaranteed.

If you have anymore advice or opinions I'd certainly like to hear!
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Old 07-12-2011   #9
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Kevin,

Talk to some fitness folks at your school about a PT program. Doing lots of pushups will get you better at doing pushups, but wow, is that boring. The weight room can help and so can doing planks. They should be able to give you some helpful advise.

Old Eagle hit on an important note - core strength. This does more than just improve your situps. It helps your back when rucking and can prevent injuries. It is the building block of general fitness, IMO.

Keep working the PT. You have a lot of room for improvement. Consider Crossfit - a generalized workout program that does surprisingly good things for the specialized APFT. And think about this - there are several MI 2LTs in my light infantry brigade (even a couple of tankers, god help us!). They work directly for the battalion S2s (most of them), but their senior rater is the battalion XO, usually an infantry/armor officer. Less than a 270, and you are likely considered a weak sister. Yes, doing your job is important, but being a capable combat leader is too, and as a 2LT, just being a leader is pretty close to your real job, regardless of branch. You never know where you might be asked to serve. Just ask the old Chemo in Cavguy's and my old battalion, who found himself a tank platoon leader in Baghdad.

I was a pretty decent land nav'er, having done it as a sergeant. However, my ROTC program preached this alot and we would often have overnights in the local state parks, executing day and night land nav courses built by the MS IVs. The extra runs were helpful in gaining additional confidence and working on TTPs (ever have a night where out of the blue you just don't trust your compass? Summer camp isn't the place to work through this...).

Sand tables/terrain models are a good thing - I just wish I saw more young LTs doing them over here in Afghanistan...

D&C is fine to practise, but don't let it dominate your efforts. You will practically never do any kind of D&C after you are commissioned. And it doesn't readily contribute to combat readiness, except at a very, very basic level of responding to orders. We no longer extend the line, ala Little Round Top.

You can always PM me if you have specific questions.

Tankersteve
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Old 07-19-2011   #10
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Not like you really wanted or needed more, but another comment on the physical stuff...

I totally agree on the importance of the core stuff, but if the goal is to build functional endurance on rough terrain, one of the most important (and overlooked) aspects is building agility and balance. Best way to do it is to do it: off-trail scrambling in mountains, boulder-hopping up river beds, whatever you can get. If you don't have access to terrain, take up sports like soccer, tennis, anything with irregular, unpredictable movement.

In my neck of the backwoods we get guys all the time who are extremely fit by objective measures, but who burn out in no time. Because they got their fitness working out in a gym and running on tracks and roads, where the movements and terrain are regular and predictable, they have a terrible time adjusting to moving over irregular ground.

Agility and balance give you efficiency: you use less energy to traverse a given piece of ground, and the difference is dramatic, not marginal. Again, best way to do it is get out in the bush, off the trail, and explore. Good fun, channel the inner hillbilly and go for it. Bring the fishin' rod and the dawg...
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Old 07-20-2011   #11
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If running is your downfall, you probably have little natural aptitude (many don't) for running, think of the run as an "endurance" event, and really therefore don't like to run and probably do too much "long and slow" training.

The Army run is a speed event, not endurance. Yes, you need a minimal degree of endurance that is easily attained; but speed is what separates the excellent from the average, and is harder to develop. If you want to run faster, then you must go out and run fast. Get on the track and do speed work at various distances. Seek the pain, embrace the pain, learn to ignore the pain.

Some example workouts:

Two miles: 3/4 speed sprints on the straights, jog/walk the corners.

Pyramid: 3/4 sprint 100, jog/walk 100; same at 200, then 300 then 400. Repeat all going back down.

Also, when you take the test, push yourself out of your comfort zone at the start, find that higher gear and hang on. If you go out at your training pace you will never get there.

(As is so often the case, be it getting to success in Afghanistan or putting up a good time on your run, the critical first step is framing the problem correctly and then focusing on the most important aspect of the problem with full awareness of what ones own strengths and weaknesses are. )
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Old 07-20-2011   #12
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Bob's reply above is exactly what my high school cross country coach had us do for our "speed work" during the week. Once the season started, we'd have two practice days and the balance of the week would either be meets or prep for meets, or recovery after. It's good stuff and it'll teach you the mental toughness, if you push yourself.

You can also do a little speed work while you're doing your long distance runs. Make a bet with yourself - Bet you can't sprint three telephone poles down the road, or to that stop sign or whatever. Then do it, but don't let yourself walk afterwards- slow to a jog and keep on going, gradually recover back to your regular pace. It can keep the running more "interesting". Additionally, you'll teach your mind that you can recover while running.

As far as land nav- a fellow lieutenant and I went to an orienteering meet once. It wasn't great as far as compass/pace kind of land nav, but it certainly gave us some better experience at terrain association. If you're hungry for something to do to improve your land nav and there's any kind of orienteering group near where you are, it certainly couldn't hurt.
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Old 08-20-2011   #13
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Bob's reply above is exactly what my high school cross country coach had us do for our "speed work" during the week. Once the season started, we'd have two practice days and the balance of the week would either be meets or prep for meets, or recovery after. It's good stuff and it'll teach you the mental toughness, if you push yourself.

You can also do a little speed work while you're doing your long distance runs. Make a bet with yourself - Bet you can't sprint three telephone poles down the road, or to that stop sign or whatever. Then do it, but don't let yourself walk afterwards- slow to a jog and keep on going, gradually recover back to your regular pace. It can keep the running more "interesting". Additionally, you'll teach your mind that you can recover while running.

As far as land nav- a fellow lieutenant and I went to an orienteering meet once. It wasn't great as far as compass/pace kind of land nav, but it certainly gave us some better experience at terrain association. If you're hungry for something to do to improve your land nav and there's any kind of orienteering group near where you are, it certainly couldn't hurt.
Hey sorry for my late reply Ken as I just got back from a study abroad trip,

I try to push myself as hard as I can when I'm running, although I do sometimes have trouble keeping myself to goal points when doing so.

Also, what hurts me in running also is the stitches you tend to get in your side with prolonged running.

Thanks for your advice also Sir.
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Old 08-21-2011   #14
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Try to relax (bouncing and jarring traps gas and creates "stitches") and reduce undue pounding. Try reaching forward more with your arms, as if you were puling yourself down the road with a long rope. Many naturally swing their arms more side to side, close across their front, which shortens your stride and wastes energy and promotes stitches.

For push-ups remember this simple rule: Train for the second minute.

I figured this out early and have used this to always do well, and also to "cure" countless people who "just can't do push-ups". Most who can't do push-ups are training for the first minute. This is so obvious most seem to miss it, but it is how many push-ups one can do in the second minute that separates a failure from a maximum score. If one does 1000 push-ups every other day; but only 20-30 at a pop they are training for the first minute and may still do poorly on the test. If one does just 200 push-ups, but does it in 4 successive sets of 50, adhering to the rules for resting within each set that apply during the test, (with say a set of ab work, pull-ups, or both in between as "rest") they train for the second minute. Any program that replicates the fatigue of the second minute will build your score.

Similarly obvious, but when taking the test "never go down if you can't get up" (i.e., learn your body. Most tap out attempting a set of 3 when they should have done just 2 before taking another short rest. You will be amazed at how many sets of 1 you can knock out when your body is a quivering mess unable to do a single set of 2). You learn your body when you train for the second minute, and also build the core strength necessary to maintain a front leaning rest for the full 2 minutes.


Though now that I am "old" and retired, I am finding that the diversity of Yoga, Plyometrics, Kempo, etc in the P90X program are curing the imbalances of a lifetime of military physical activity. Flexibility is getting better, small but important muscles are being recruited, and chronic lower back pain is gone. Point being, train for life, but while in the military you must also focus on certain activities simply because those are the metrics you are assessed by your subordinates, peers, and superiors on.
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