Florida Tech Panther Battalion Earns Top Honors for Cadet Training

Florida Tech’s Panther Battalion has been commended by 6th Brigade Army ROTC for having the highest average performance at Advanced Camp 2022 out of 39 Army schools in the brigade, which includes institutions in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. 

Ten members of the ROTC Panther Battalion participated in Advanced Camp over the summer. Based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the 35-day training event is designed to “develop a cadet’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to forge them into tough, adaptable leaders who can thrive in ambiguous and complex environments,” according to the Army.

Participating cadets were: Brayan Cruz, Mason Elizondo, Jacob Filer, Regina Gaglione, Chandler Hake, Jake Marzano, Vincent Palermo, Jonathan Shumer, Mekhi Tabron and Ethan White.

Cadets are evaluated on their ability to lead at the squad and platoon levels, both in garrison and tactical environments, and they are mentally and physically tested during a 12-day consequence-driven field training exercise that replicates a combat training center rotation.

“Our cadets performed extremely well,” said LTC James Crook, DBA, a professor of military science who leads the university’s ROTC program.

Hake and Cruz said cadets’ success can be traced to Florida Tech’s ROTC program – and their own hard work.

“I believe that us achieving No. 1 not only shows how much we’ve grown as a program over the last couple of years but also shows the benefits of the way that our training is conducted and constructed,” Hake said. “We have a small battalion which provides us the opportunity to get more hands-on and personalized experience and training. Our battalion fosters a more intimate teaching environment so that cadets always have access to the learning that is needed for Advanced Camp.”

And he added, “These results really show the hours of work that have been put in by all the cadets and cadre to be successful and be the best that we could be.”

“I think it reflects the high quality of training we receive here in the Panther Battalion,” Cruz agreed.

Successful completion of the Advanced Camp is a prerequisite for commissioning, and each task that cadets execute serves a purpose that will help them in their career as Army officers, Crook said.

Some of these tasks serve to improve mental toughness and determination, such as the 60-foot rappel tower or the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) gas chamber. Other events such as the Air Assault obstacle course, the Army Combat Fitness Test, or the 6-, 8- and 12-mile ruck marches serve to assess and improve physical fitness and agility. 

Graduation day at Advanced Camp.

Events like tactical combat casualty care, day and night land navigation, grenade familiarization, and rifle marksmanship help to teach and improve cadets’ understanding of Army tasks and priorities, Crook added. Lastly, a three-phase field training exercise helps to assess each cadet’s overall strengths and weaknesses as they are pushed to their limits while they execute tactical missions and practice leadership.

Hake and Cruz, along with fellow Panther Ethan White, were among those who earned the RECONDO badge. Awarded to cadets who display superior skills at Advanced Camp, recipients must exceed the standards in Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), confidence courses, land navigation, marksmanship, first aid, CBRN and the 12-mile foot march.

At the conclusion of Advanced Camp was a graduation ceremony.

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