Cadets experience 'war' during visit

Cadet 3rd Class Jesse Salmon, a ROTC sophomore at the University of Arkansas, practices rifle fighting techniques during the Combat Skills course held at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., July 10 to 14. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michelle Cross)

Cadet 3rd Class Jesse Salmon, a ROTC sophomore at the University of Arkansas, practices rifle fighting techniques during the Combat Skills course held at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., July 10 to 14. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michelle Cross)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Cadets from ROTC units across the country finished their three-week visit here by going to "war" with members of the 460th Space Wing.

Eighteen cadets, who were here June 25 to July 14 as part of the Operation Air Force program, took part in War Week July 10 to 14. Airmen at Buckley participate periodically in War Week to prepare for deployments and other events that may disrupt normal operations.

Operation Air Force is designed to give U.S. Air Force Academy and Air Force ROTC cadets exposure to active-duty life.

Maj. Angela Stickels, 460th SW Plans Office deputy chief, and other base officials decided to incorporate the cadets into the base's week-long training to help them gain a better understanding of what they will see once they are commissioned as Air Force officers.

"It was a chance to show them the real Air Force is nothing like the movies," she said. "The cadets gained firsthand knowledge and experience of Air Force operations by watching multiple specialties during crunch time. This can only help them become better officers once their careers begin."

The plan to bring the cadets into War Week paid off, officials said. All of the cadets stated they were elated to find out about their participation, and even more so after they experienced it.

"I now have a better understanding of everyone's role in the mission," said ROTC Cadet 3rd class Joseph Migliaccio, a sophomore at Boston College in Massachusetts. "On television we see people pulling the trigger or flying planes. This week I saw the huge support force behind all of that."

ROTC Cadet 3rd Class Carly Reimer, a sophomore at Purdue University in Indiana, wasn't sure what to expect, but quickly observed the importance teamwork plays in the success of operations.

"There were a lot of people doing different things with the same goal in mind," she said. "I could see they all needed to work together to achieve their goal. The importance of getting critical information to everyone who needs it in a timely manner is something I will never forget."