Weber State University ROTC cadets knelt and braced themselves against the wind each time the two helicopters landed to ferry another group to training on Mt. Green yesterday.
Lt. Col. Robert Bashein, a WSU professor of military science, said this helicopter transport training is as similar to a real air insertion that happens in combat as the WSU ROTC program can simulate.
“We try to replicate military training as best as we can here on campus, but it’s difficult to do because we’re in a non-military environment, so really, flying helicopters is probably as close as we can get,” Bashein said. “We’re actually getting on a piece of Army equipment, we’re flying in it, and this is something they’ll do when they get out there into the Army.”
The helicopters were provided and flown by the Utah National Guard, who sponsors this training each year.
“They are good enough to support us every year when we do this,” Bashein said. “If they had a more important mission, then we would get scratched, but we plan it months in advance so they don’t. They incorporate some kind of training into taking us up there so it kind of benefits both of us.”
Bashein said adding helicopters to training familiarizes cadets with what Army life will be like.
“It lets them fly and see what it’s like and understand how that works, breaking everyone down by group and the logistics in the plane that it takes for getting in there and then flying up there,” Bashein said. “So it’s a familiarization of an Army asset they will actually use one day.
Besides flying on the helicopters, the training included finding an enemy force at Mt. Green and subduing them with paintball guns.
“The paintball guns are probably the best training weapon we have for what conditions we’re in,” Bashein said. “It’s good in a way, but we try to not have them act like it’s a paintball gun but like it’s a real weapon. Sometimes they lose focus on what they really have and what they’re shooting.”
Bashein said there are currently 89 cadets in the WSU ROTC program, but there are endless opportunities for students who are even remotely interested.
“You can get money to pay for school, get paid to go to school, set yourself up for a job when you graduate and you get to do fun stuff like this,” Bashein said.