In early September, Air Force ROTC Det 009 officially began training in a new semester, under new cadre, and with plenty of new rules. As the pandemic continues, Det 009 cadets and cadre have worked together to find training solutions that make the best of current COVID-19 response restrictions. The goal is to ensure Det 009 still provides a meaningful training experience despite the abnormality of the school year.
Aerospace Studies classes and Leadership Lab are still held via Zoom meetings, but this summer gave the cadre and upperclassmen training staff time to develop additional strategies to encourage learning. For example, because Leadership Lab now primarily consists of briefings, it can be difficult for cadets to remain engaged. However, the training staff has made sure to use multimedia formats and consistent question periods to supplant the usual format of “hands-on” learning.
Additionally, because cadets have been unable to practice drill in large groups due to COVID-19 response guidelines, the cadet training staff have implemented a system of “drill pods.” Small groups of GMC (General Military Course) cadets, monitored by one or two POC (Professional Officer Course) cadet instructors, meet in their free time to practice drill in accordance with COVID-19 response guidelines. The inception of drill pods has allowed cadets to practice drill together for the first time in six months.
Instead of gathering the entire wing to perform physical training (PT) twice a week, the PT Flight has designed a system that incorporates the training of all cadets in a physically distant manner while maintaining social camaraderie. Cadets are required to join one of several Zoom sessions led by individual PT trainers, who publish their workouts and meeting schedule in advance. Cadets join the call, or meet in small groups outside, and work out together under the direction of a designated trainer. Cadets also keep track of individual workouts such as runs, bike rides, lifts, and swims. Monthly challenges between flights are added to spice up the workout fervor. Wingmanship is surviving and thriving thanks to innovation by the PT flight. Of note—the flight with the most recorded running mileage this month will be crowned victor!
The virtual format does have its benefits. For one, Det 009 has been able to secure the time of several notable guest speakers. In September, Col Jason Lamb, AKA “Col Ned Stark” spoke to cadets about his experience and outlook on the future of the Air and Space Forces. Additionally, Col Phillippe “Boz” Rogers, USMC (Ret.) emphatically inspired cadets and answered important questions about leadership during his visit to the AS200 class later in the month. In October, Det 009 is also hosting Vice Admiral Francisco Calisto Giampietri who is set to speak on his experience as a special operator and leader in the war on drugs.
Det 009 is weathering the COVID-19 storm as best as possible with new solutions. Yale University is maintaining a proactive approach toward keeping its community safe, and we are looking forward to once again hearing the excessively loud calls of “Good morning!” and “Flight halt what?” echoing through the halls of Payne Whitney Gymnasium.