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By LEE RIALS WHINSEC
The Cadet Leadership Development Course that began Oct. 9 and graduates Wednesday brings the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation its largest and most diverse group of students all year.
More than 160 cadets from five nations and three services are working on their leadership skills as they experience the tremendous training facilities of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, developing relationships with their peers and learning about the culture of the U.S. and its military.
The Dominican Republic sent 21 Air Force cadets; Honduras added 64 Army cadets, 16 Navy cadets, eight Air Force cadets, plus exchange cadets from Taiwan and El Salvador; and Peru brought in 49 Army cadets. Four of the Honduran cadets are women.
Training featured field exercises starting with the Leaders Reaction Course. The cadets took Combat Water Survival training, fired U.S. M4 rifles for marksmanship, went to Martin Army Hospital to run the Medical Simulation Training Center lanes, rappelled using the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System, and conducted day and night land navigation before finishing with a three-day, non-stop field training exercise.
To learn about the U.S. and its culture, the cadets took a two-day trip to Atlanta as part of DoDs Field Studies Program, visiting the Holocaust museum, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, the CNN Center, the World of Coca-Cola, the Carter Center and the Georgia Aquarium.
Classroom training was just as intense, from the opening days focus on Democracy and Human Rights to the last training day that brought senior Army officers and NCOs from the Fort Benning community in for a Leadership Round Table to share experiences and leadership values. One Honduran Marine cadet said the course was a great learning experience useful in the future during joint operations.
WHINSEC conducted five more Cadet Leadership Courses during 2012, with students from Colombia, Chile, and the U.S. filling the classes.
U.S. ROTC students from 14 colleges and universities and West Point cadets came to courses during the summer to live and work with partner nation cadets for four weeks of immersion in Spanish language and relationship-building.
Cadet leadership training has become a primary and popular achievement of WHINSEC, not only for the partner nations but for the U.S. Army and its work toward developing leaders with knowledge of other cultures and other languages.