Greetings Bay State Battalion Cadets, Alumni, family and friends. MSG Szalai and I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season as we wrap up an inspiring and productive fall semester. Thank you to LTC (ret) Putnam and MSG Blair for an excellent handover and more importantly, a well-trained unit. For those of you who we have not met, MSG Szalai and I both arrived this summer from Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell respectively. For both of us, this is our first experience in Cadet Command. We are honored and humbled for the opportunity to develop our Army’s future leaders, but bear with us, we are still trying figure out the differences between ‘CCIMS’, ‘BCFS’ and the infamous ‘MSMR’.
Fortunately, we have an amazing and professional group of civilian cadre in the Bay State Battalion. Kim, Evelyn, Sharon, and Darryl continue to keep this organization running like a well-oiled machine. Kim provides a friendly face to our cadets, even when their Infantry dreams turn into Chemical nightmares. Evelyn works diligently to make magic happen before, during, and even after the accessions process. Sharon provides the supplies we need (and the sugar we don’t) to carry out our daily tasks and execute amazing training. Darryl continues to fill our ranks with cadets that we can be proud to call Officers in our Army. Thank you for your unwavering loyalty and dedication to our cadets and our program.
Our MS3 and MS4 classes, led by Cadet Battalion Commander Ben Seitz, demonstrated masterful leadership this semester as they transitioned to an entirely new set of instructors and expectations. The semester kicked off with an extremely well planned and executed Cadet Orientation weekend, capped off by a trip to Fort Devens to practice leadership skills on the FLRC and Confidence Course. Shortly after the orientation weekend, our Ranger Challenge team, led by Cadet Scherer, braved the cold and rain (and some mild trench foot) to finish competitively amongst a strong field of over 40 teams. Thank you to the Scherer family for their moral (and dietary) support during the event. They truly carried the Guidon for us! We hope to see more families, and perhaps some alumni, at the event next year.
Almost immediately following the Ranger Challenge, our cadets again braved the elements (torrential downpours this time) in early November to execute a rigorous Fall Field Training Exercise (FTX). The FTX highlighted the impressive planning and preparation conducted by the MS4 class, as they demonstrated Mission Command at its finest. Contingency plans were executed without flaw as the inclement weather had no negative effects on our training outcomes. Our new cadets got their first practical iterations with field craft and small unit tactics. Our MS3s assumed tactical leadership roles as they navigated five Situation Tactical Exercise (STX) lanes with their squads. As the wind tore through on Saturday afternoon, it took the rain, a few trees, and one MS4 with it. Sunday, we capped off a great weekend with a force on force paintball battle royal, pitting platoons against each other, while the MS4s had chance to display their Advance Camp tactics as an unpredictable, non-state actor element.
Late November brought another truly exceptional event known as the “Dining-In”. This event, steeped in military history, was a great opportunity for MSG Szalai and I to ‘see ourselves’. From Day 1, we have preached the concept of constant assessment in the operations planning process. The dining-in gave the cadets an opportunity to give MSG Szalai and me our own assessment, as they highlighted all of our blunders from the first semester. The event was highlight by our own Bay State Battalion alum, COL Frank Moore, who served as our guest speaker. COL Moore, who serves as the Military Deputy Director at Natick Labs, highlighted some great new Army initiatives, including work on an exoskeleton and pizza MREs! COL Moore has also arranged for several cadets to get a tour of the Natick facilities in January.
We capped off a great semester by Commissioning three deserving MS4s into the Officer Corps. Cadets Ben Rogers (FSU, NG, Artillery), Cameron Hale (UML, AD, Infantry), and Gia Vu (UML, NG, Finance) joined the ranks of the Bay State Battalion alumni, as they begin their careers as Second Lieutenants. Congratulations to all of you and a special thanks to BG (ret) Smith (FSU, 1980) and LTC (ret) Putnam for serving as guest speakers for these commissioning ceremonies. Your presence truly enhanced these important events.