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Basic cadets get ready for ‘gut check’ in Jack’s Valley

Jacks Valley field training

By Ray Bowden/July 25, 2017

Dust flew in Jacks Valley when hundreds of basic cadets marched to the training area at the U.S Air Force Academy to begin 10 days of field exercises.

Each year, basic cadets spend 10 days in Jacks Valley where their team building, military skills, and mental resolve are put to the test, said Lt. Col. Maria Roberts, Basic Cadet Training commander.

“This begins the second portion of BCT, when young civilians begin to turn into Airmen,” she said.

The Jacks Valley experience puts basic cadets in conditions similar to a deployment to a remote location. They’ll live in a “tent city,” participate in demanding individual and team obstacles, and test their mettle as burgeoning Airmen, Roberts said.

“Probably the biggest challenge is that they’re all really tired,” she said. “This training is designed for that. They’ll need to do a gut-check and carry on.”

Cadet 1st Class Casey Bell, BCT group commander, said the entire cadre of junior and senior cadets is personally invested in seeing each basic cadet succeed.

“The goal of the cadre is to push each of them to reach their full potential,” she said. “We did it ourselves and we know with the right attitude, they can do it too.”

Bell said she’s inspired by her cadre’s role of “cadets training cadets.”

“It lights a fire in your heart,” she said. “You want them to be proud of themselves. You want them to one day be better than you. If we can’t produce better officers than we have the potential to be ourselves, what’s the point?”

Col. John Price, vice commandant of cadets , said the first step for any basic cadet in achieving their full potential is taking responsibility for their actions, whether crawling through the mud, under barbed wire, or taking on any other challenge in the field.

“One thing is important while you are out here, one single word: ownership,” he said. “Own your effort. You’ll get the most of it if you put your most into it.”

The basic cadets are scheduled to complete their field training Aug. 3. The academic year begins Aug. 10.