Today it is Thursday and JFTX has begun. The last couple of days have been, to say the least, hectic as all my classes decided that this week would be a good week for tests, projects, and mountains of homework. On top of school I had to pack everything on the packing list in my rucksack to spec and buy mountains of trail mix and candy for the long weekend in order to accompany/replace the delicious MRE’s on the off chance that I got a bad one such as sloppy Joe (which I did get). All woes aside, now that it has begun, I can breathe a sigh of relief. Last year if someone had told me that the most fun I’d be having at Clarkson was going to be running around in the woods at night orienteering, ruck-marching (usually in the rain), and fighting off fictitious enemy forces for 10 hours a day, I would have probably looked at you as if you had 3 heads, but in all honesty as strange as it sounds, it’s become something I look forward to each semester. Today all of the Clarkson Army ROTC cadets gathered at Old Snell (in an organized carpool of course) and got in formation alongside the other two schools who were already there in the formation we’d be in for the duration of the JFTX. One by one we were assigned a new squad in the mass formation and told to fall out on our respective squad. I was assigned to B11, or Bravo company, first platoon, first squad, where there was only one other Clarkson Cadet, a “Cadet Staff Sergeant” Steve Strait (MSII Civil Engineer from Pennsyltucky). The other seven members were a mix from the other two schools. I will never forget the first thing that the only girl in my squad said to me the minute I got to my squad, “Do you have like a ruck packing class or something at Clarkson?” At first I thought she was insulting how I had packed my ruck because it’s basically the world’s largest backpack with 80lbs of “stuff” inside, but mine was pretty squared away. Then I looked at hers; who needs a rucksack when you’re just going to balance everything in the most bizarre way on your back, making it impossible to walk/stand?
Not much happened today after meeting with our squad. We got our “War Brief” about how this weekend we would be defending the natives of “Atropia” and what the enemy and friendly forces looked like. Following our brief we were sent to our rooms where we would be sleeping that night with our squad members in Old Snell. If you’re thinking, “Hey I’ve been to Old Snell before and it is not a hotel”, you are so wrong! All you need to make Old Snell as comfortable as any 1 or even 2 star motel is a “sleep system” which is a foam mat, and three sleeping bags. It’s basically like camping, but indoors. After becoming more acquainted with our squad members (cohesiveness in a unit is usually paramount to its success) as they were the people we were rooming with, we got “chow” and then returned to our room to receive our operations order (OPORD) for the following day (the army has many acronyms in order to be more efficient and save time, but when having to explain them to someone who doesn’t know them, it usually has the opposite effect) and is one of the most important parts to being a good leader. After the order it was lights out at 2200 H (10pm) and the end of the first day in Atropia.