The Huskie Battalion deployed to Marseilles Training Area via Chinook helicopters on Friday, 27 April to conduct their Spring Field Training Exercise (FTX). The Illinois National Guard provided air transportation from the NIU campus to the training site. Once on the ground, Opposing Forces (OPFOR) immediately hit the Cadets with an ambush. After fighting their way to the Forward Operating Base, things quieted down.
The MSIIIs (juniors) then conducted day and night land navigation training in preparation for this summer's Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) at Fort Lewis, WA. The MSIs and MSIIs (freshmen and sophomores) organized themselves into five squads and prepared for the next day. Later that evening, the OPFOR was back, attacking the base. After a few hours manning the perimeter in the rain, the Cadets turned in at 0200 hrs. Wake up was only 2 hours away.
The next day, the MSIs and MSIIs embarked on the Iron Crucible - a military skills competition between squads involving a hand grenade assault course, react to ambush, one rope bridge, first aid, and weapons assembly. The final event was a force-on-force battle in a small training village against the OPFOR. Both sides had paint marker rounds in this one and the fighting was fierce. Meanwhile, the MSIIIs were protecting the FOB and launching out on several tactical missions throughout the day. One mission saw them reacting to a friendly vehicle hit by an IED. They had to evacuate the casualties while the OPFOR tried to stop them.
In the end, 3rd Squad, led by Cadet Lauren Armendariz, was the winner of the squad competition and the MSIIIs were more prepared for LDAC this summer. Iron Crucible II awaits next year's Cadet Battalion.