Marine Corps Training
As with the NROTC’s mission to develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically, and to imbue them with the highest ideals of honor, courage, and commitment, UNL’s Marine Option Platoon is designed to stem off of this main mission. We focus solely on developing Midshipmen to one day function as company grade officers in the United States Marine Corps. To accomplish this, we focus on what will be seen at Officers Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia.
To prepare for this, we start developing these young individuals upon arriving at UNL’s NROTC program. As a Freshman, a Midshipman will mostly learn about the different aspects of the Marine Corps, basic fundamental skills used as a Marine, developing physically, and making the beginning transitions to life as an officer. As a Sophomore, the Midshipman will continue to make transitions to life as an officer, master basic fundamental skills used as a Marine, but the Midshipman will make the transition to a leader. As a Junior, basic fundamentals are natural, transitioning to a different lifestyle continues, and leadership skills are being put to test. After completing their Junior year, Marine Option Midshipman will report to Quantico, Virginia for Officers Candidates School (www.ocs.usmc.mil). Completing this will leave one full academic year until commissioning as a 2nd Lt, and another trip to Quantico for The Basic School.
To complete the above mentioned, the Marine Option Platoon utilizes different aspects of learning styles. OCS prep is a classroom environment designed to teach the fundamentals in a relaxed environment. OCS prep takes place for approximately one hour each week, and teaches fundamentals like: Basic land navigation, basic squad sized tactics, basic 5 paragraph orders, and many more fundamental classes. Once these basic skills are mastered, field exercises are utilized to evaluate each Midshipman to identify and correct any deficiencies that may be encountered. The goal is to equip each necessary Midshipman with the necessary background to successfully complete OCS.
Marine Corps Field Training
The UNL NROTC Marine Corps Field Training Exercises of Red Lightning (Fall) and Red Thunder (Spring) represent the culminating events for Marine Option Midshipmen each term. These field events incorporate important leadership and tactical knowledge learned throughout each term during 2-3 hour classroom sessions called Marine Corps Training Operations (MCTO) classes. Additionally, a rigorous physical training program, called Marine Corps Physical Training (Marine PT), builds students up to accept the tough physical challenge of each exercise. Overall, the exercises are a test of each individual Marine Option Midshipman’s physical and mental strength and courage, as well as their ability to work in and lead teams.
Utilizing the Nebraska Army National Guard Meade Training Area (15 minutes north of Camp Ashland, NE), the training exercises require two full days of training and evaluation. The exercises test Marine Option Midshipmen in their ability to perform day and night land navigation (compass, map, and pacing skills), fire team tactics, squad tactics, field skills (cover, concealment, weapons maintenance, patrolling, urban combat, bivouacking, combat lifesaving, standing watch, emergency action drills, orders delivery and development, etc.), and physical activities like, conditioning hikes (5 or 12 miles in length).
The spring field exercise is designed to give students an introductory training approach to important field skills. This first exercise takes place in the fall semester and allows new Marine Option Midshipmen to be introduced to the feeling of being immersed in a field training environment, as opposed to the college environment where the skills needed for the field training exercise are taught. The spring exercise incorporates the knowledge learned since the beginning of that school year. This second field training exercise tests and evaluates all Marine Option Midshipmen, with emphasis placed on the evaluation of the junior class of midshipmen who are slated to attend OCS the approaching summer. This field exercise also includes the conduct of a helicopter raid on an urban fighting complex. Midshipmen are introduced to Urban Warfare exercises via a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter insertion, provided by the Army National Guard unit in Lincoln, NE, utilizing M16-A2 service rifles, firing blanks in both urban warfare training and in small unit leadership exercises, as well as utilizing M4 style paintball guns in different warfare exercises to develop an understanding of leadership in a dangerous environment. The Marine Corps Field Training Exercises develop, train, and evaluate all Marine Option Midshipmen.
Here is a video of our Marine Option Platoon in action
Marine Corps Physical Training
Marine Corps Physical Training (also known as “Marine PT”) is one of the many pillars of Marine Option student development here at UNL NROTC. Behind academics and professional knowledge, it is the most important building block of what makes a Marine Option Midshipman prepared to be an outstanding officer in the United States Marine Corps. An officer leads from the front in all cases; excellent physical conditioning is required to do so, especially in a lean fighting force such as the Marines. Marine Corps Officers are expected to uphold the highest discipline of body and mind; Marine Corps Physical Training shows young Marine Option Midshipman what that truly entails.
At 6 o’clock am (or 0600 if you want to be in the military) every Wednesday and Friday, as the rest of the campus sleeps, one dozen NROTC students are awake and preparing themselves for the day. The first order of business on these early mornings is to execute one Marine Corps Physical Training Evolution. Ammo cans, buddy drags, pull-ups, low crawls, leg lifts, long runs, short sprints, the morning quickly turns into a blur of green as the midshipman are led in exercise after exercise designed to strengthen their bodies and minds. Each morning a different workout is prepared and led by the senior members of the Marine Options to include the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor, all active duty personnel, and all Marine Option senior students.
As well as being supplemented by standard Battalion workouts every Monday and Thursday, the Marine Options also prepare themselves for monthly conditioning hikes. Training hikes are full gear load out hikes that vary in length and intensity throughout the year until culminating in a 15 mile hike during the weekend-long training Exercise “Red Thunder” in the spring. These hikes condition their bodies to what will be expected of them at schools such as Officer Candidate School and The Basic School as well as preparing them for the operating forces. It is not every day you make yourself a better person, but every time these young men and women walk off the field after Marine Corps Physical Training they have done just that and grown even closer towards their goal of becoming Officers in the United States Marine Corps.