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Released March 24, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- The University of Southern Mississippi Army ROTC battalion will put its training to the test with cadets from six other universities April 1-4 during the field training exercise (FTX) "Viking Pines" at Camp Shelby.

About 180 cadets will train in land navigation, small-unit tactics, field-craft and a leadership obstacle course.

The event prepares cadets for advanced leadership training this summer. Southern Miss will participate with cadets from the University of West Florida, Marion Military Institute, University of South Alabama, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University.

"Viking Pines is the major field training exercise each year for our cadets," said Maj. Gregory Hargett, an assistant professor in the Department of Military Science. "It is the annual opportunity for Southern Miss Army ROTC cadets to interact with cadets from four other colleges and universities at the same military science level, in a field setting. This is the prime opportunity for them to display their talents and skills."

Army ROTC is an elective curriculum taken along with a student's required college classes. After successfully completing Army ROTC, students are commissioned as officers in the active Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve.

Being an officer in the U.S. Army means being a leader, a counselor, a strategist and a motivator, Hargett said. "It's similar to being a vital manager in a corporation."

Officers lead other soldiers in all situations and adjust in the environments that are always changing. Officers are problem-solvers, key influencers and planners, Hargett said. "They are driven to achieve success with their team on every mission. Army ROTC prepares students to assume these responsibilities," he said.

Viking Pines is the last stop on the cadet's preparation for his or her summer training, said Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty, chair of the Department of Military Science at Southern Miss.

"It ups the ante by putting cadets in an unfamiliar environment in which they are training alongside cadets from other ROTC programs and are being evaluated by cadre from other programs. It takes them out of their (Southern Miss) comfort zone," Dougherty said.

This FTX is a major part of the cadet's preparation for the Leadership Development Advanced Camp (LDAC) held each summer at Fort Lewis, Wash. Cadets typically attend LDAC between their junior and senior years.

Senior cadets from all seven schools will assist the cadre as primary planners and trainers for FTX Viking Pines. Most of the cadets undergoing this training are juniors.

Southern Miss' Army ROTC program commissions approximately 20 second lieutenants each year, making it the most productive ROTC program in the state. For additional information, please contact Dougherty at 266-4456 or or Hargett at 266-4460 or You can also visit the Southern Miss Army ROTC Web site at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM