AQUATIC COMBAT

AQUATIC COMBAT

Fully clothed in their fatigues and equipment, Army ROTC cadets made a splash in the University Recreation Center pool Thursday.For the past seven or eight years, the Army has required cadets to do combat water survival training once a year, said Lt. Col. John Agor , a professor of military science.

Cadets had to swim 25 meters in their fatigues with their weapons and equipment, jump off the high dive blindfolded and turn their fatigues into flotation devices.

They learned techniques on how to survive if they ever ended up in deep water, such as a river, during combat, Agor said.

Cadets were required to jump in the water and remove all of their gear underwater before surfacing.

They also learned what to do if they needed to help someone without water survival skills.

Cadets had to take off the bottoms of their fatigues – they still had black Army shorts underneath – tie the ends of the pants in knots and slam them over their heads to fill the pant legs with air to serve as a flotation device.

“If you can keep calm you can get out of anything,” Agor said. “It’s all about teamwork.”

The water training is to help cadets to combat fear of heights and water, Maj. Kristin Kremer said. They are also trained to react properly if they unexpectedly end up in water with heavy equipment on so they know they won’t drown, she said.

Clay Eiland, a junior cadet, said this training helps fight fears. He said the Army doesn’t do any other training in the water.

The training consisted of five different stations. Before moving on, cadets were required to complete each.

Cadets participate in the water training when they are freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

“Jumping off the high dive and actually surviving is my favorite part,” freshman cadet Ashley Kelley said.

Cadets must ask permission before entering the water and climbing the ladders to the diving board. Once they get to the top of the diving board, Eric Hart, a senior, turns the cadets’ hats around, covering their eyes, and tells the them to hold their rifles out in front of them and to yell loudly when they jump.

“I don’t know what we’re yelling about!” screamed one cadet as he jumped off the high dive.

Hart said a couple of them have to be coaxed to jump every year, and he had to talk two cadets into doing it this year.

If they are weak swimmers, they have to tie a white piece of material to their fatigues and swim in the first lane because it’s shallower. This lets the senior cadets who are helping with the exercises to look out for them.

The summer between the cadets’ junior and senior years, they are required to attend a camp for a four-week leadership development and assessment course in Washington, Agor said.

The camp is comparable a final exam for TCU cadets and 272 other ROTC university cadets that they must complete before they graduate, Agor said.