The following story was written and submitted by NROTC at Iowa State University.
Bull Dog Prep started for the Iowa State Marine Options with a long drive on Thursday night to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan. Arriving at 0230, the eight midshipmen participants and four staff members were able to log minimal sleep before reveille at 0500.
The first day started with the Physical Fitness Test, a challenging test of physical conditioning. The candidates were required to do as many pull-ups as possible, followed by as many sit-ups in two minutes as possible followed by a three mile run at their top speed. Under normal circumstances, this test is difficult; aided by the lack of sleep, the loud sergeant instructors and temperatures in the teens, this trial established their true fortitude.
After a quick breakfast, the candidates participated in land navigation and Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) events. The cold temperatures persisted throughout the day with snow moving in around noon. After spending over six hours in the woods, the candidates came back for another quick meal before heading back out to night land navigation. Upon their return at 2100, the candidates quickly showered and prepared for bed, fire watch and essay writing.
The next morning with another 0500 wakeup call, the candidates were greeted by 3.5 inches of fresh snow, temperatures in the 20s and the unsettling voices of five sergeant instructors. After marching a half mile out to the CFT course, the decision to cancel the event was made, and the candidates received a class in leadership by Captain Kerg, Michigan State’s Marine Officer Instructor. After morning chow, the candidates headed out to Small Unit Leader Evaluation (SULE) carrying out small patrols complete with an operations order. The attacks took place in the snowy woods with platoons of 12 candidates split into three fire teams. With each new evolution of the exercise, a different candidate was in charge and evaluated by a staff instructor.
Later in the afternoon, the candidate participated in groups of five in an exercise called the Leadership Reaction Course. During these intense, timed obstacles, the candidates take turns being in charge and leading their team through a challenging mission. There were a total of ten different stations the teams rotated through. This event was graded on the leader’s ability to give an operations order, come up with a plan and direct his fire team through the obstacle.
The evening was finished out by a quick dinner and spending over an hour and a half with the sergeant instructors drilling outside. They then went to a class on Marine Corps customs and courtesies. The night was completed with another round of essays and fire watch.
On the final morning, the candidates participated in another round of SULE events before cleaning up and heading back home. The ride home was filled with stories of candidates’ experiences and feeling of relief that they had made it through this stressful affair. The candidate quickly fell asleep for the majority of the ride.
Bull Dog Prep was a successful training evolution preparing the midshipmen for the stressors and drill of the six-week Officer Candidate Training they complete in the summer after their junior year.