NEWS | July 20, 2018

U.S. Army Reserve NCOs bring civilian skills to ROTC cadet summer training

By Sgt. Hector Rene Membreno-Canales Exercise News Day

In the heat of the summer months, Fort Knox, Kentucky becomes ground zero for the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadet Summer Training. The purpose of CST is to mold and prepare cadets for the demands of Army leadership, a task undertaken by U.S. Army Reserve noncommissioned officers from the 104th Training Division (TD).

“My best lieutenants came from ROTC,” said U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chris Esguerra, a native of Port Orchard, Washington, and CST instructor from the 104th TD. 

This is Esguerra’s 10th year training cadets, and he has adjusted his methods and style to effectively motivate future leaders. For this summer’s CST he was tasked to provide cadets with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training, also known as CBRN.

“For me, especially from my civilian experience, the best way to learn is by enjoying the training,” said Esguerra. “If you start hammering down, yelling and screaming, they’re not going to respond.”

Esguerra, a training and safety coordinator for Kitsap County Public Works in Bremerton, Washington, leans on that experience to make the cadet training as realistic and rewarding as possible. 

“If you add some comedy in there and keep it lively, the learning retention is much higher,” he continued. “We are trying to make it real for them and real for us. If we stick to a script verbatim, they quickly lose interest.” 

“I love working with Sergeant E,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Cecilio Myers, a native of Dade City, Florida and CST instructor assigned to Task Force Wolf.

“He’s not winging it,” said Myers. “He’s a professional and knows this equipment inside and out.” 

Myers too brings civilian experience to CST.

“I work for the U.S. Postal Service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the civilian side,” said Myers. “We deal with safety quite a bit, especially when you work in a big plant that sorts out the mail. There are industrial machines, moving vehicles, logistical needs, and many safety considerations for the equipment.” 

When Myers began working for the U.S. Postal Service, there was a more seasoned employee who trained him. He draws from that experience by insisting that there are no shortcuts and only one standard. 

“If you don’t do this training to the standard, mistakes could happen, or worse, someone could get hurt,” he explained. “I bring that philosophy to my training. I emphasize to the cadets, if you can’t correctly put on this life-saving equipment during training, it could cost you your life in a real-world chemical environment.” 

To successfully complete CBRN training, cadets must demonstrate competence in their Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology in the five stages of Mission Oriented Protective Posture.

The JSLIST gear includes a protective mask, overgarments, boots and gloves. The instructors of TF Wolf demonstrated how to properly put on a JSLIST within eight minutes and dawn their protective mask within nine seconds. 

Once cadets confidently demonstrate their understanding of MOPP stages, they will have the rare experience of being exposed to compound 2 chlorobenzalmalononitrile, more commonly known as “CS gas.”

“It’s crucial for us to train the cadets to the standard, because they may be my platoon leader or XO down the line,” Myers stressed.