Labs are the weekly training events that drive the ROTC program. On Thursday afternoons, all the cadets come together and work as a team to hone their soldier skills and build camaraderie. These labs are planned and executed by the upperclassmen of ROTC and provide all involved with a great experience. Cadets get the chance to learn how to rappel, conduct land navigation and conduct drill and ceremony at a banquet at the end of the semester. Cadets also learn how to conduct reconnaissance, ambush, and raid missions using tactics as a mechanism to practice leadership. These labs teach cadets how to react properly under pressure and grow as leaders by providing them with opportunities to lead.
One of the first labs NMU's Wildcat Battalion conducts is rappelling off of 65-foot tall ROTC rock. ROTC Rock is located in Marquette's Tourist Park, only a couple of miles from campus. Students learn how to tie different knots and create a hand-made harness called a Swiss Seat, which they use to rappel down the rock. During the winter semester, students reach new heights when they rappel 112 feet from the top of the Superior Dome. This is not only a fun experience for all, but also a huge confidence booster after completion!
Combat Water Survival Training
Each year, students complete the standard Army Combat Water Survival Test (CWST) in order to gain water confidence. CWST includes treading water for 5 minutes, swimming 50 meters with a dummy M16 rifle, an underwater gear drop, and a 30 foot jump off the high dive platform (all of which is performed while in uniform). Additionally, cadets learn water survival techniques - specifically, how to create floatation devices with their trousers. This is another great day for the Wildcat Battalion! Students may face their fears, but they come out on the other side stronger and more confident than ever.
Winter Survival Training
It is important for future soldiers to learn basic winter survival skills, and Marquette serves as the perfect training location! One lab session each year is dedicated solely for this purpose. Students learn how to layer clothing properly, build snow shelters, and make sustaining fires to stay as warm as possible in harsh winter weather conditions. This is a great learning opportunity for not only military personnel, but for all those who live in cold climates. They also learn how to use their issued snowshoes so they are prepared to conduct future winter operations with NMU ROTC.
Field Leadership Reaction Course
This specific lab is designed to test cadets' leadership skills and decisive action under pressure. It consists of 4 to 5 short challenges that require critical thinking and creativity from an assigned leader, but also a great deal of teamwork. The specific challenges vary with each year, but are generally difficult to complete. This is a fun way for cadets to get to know each other, apply their skills, work as a team, and exercise their mind and bodies.
In addition to what is listed above, the NMU Wildcat Battalion conducts mission-specific labs where cadets are cycled through a series of leadership positions. This involves detailed planning, clear communication, and actual execution of different missions. ROTC uses infantry tactics as a measure of leadership and critical thinking. During these labs, cadets learn how to issue operations orders and learn the techniques to be successful during a recon, ambush or raid. The main purpose for these labs is to develop each cadet into a leader - someone who is confident, competent, and able to use adaptive thinking during difficult situations.