ROTC LDAC and the Road to Ranger School
What is LDAC?
There is plenty of information on the web about LDAC, stating its purpose is to "train U.S. Army ROTC cadets to Army standards and to develop leadership and evaluate officer potential." Much more important to those who want to earn the coveted Ranger Tab is the next part: "this is accomplished through a tiered training structure using light infantry tactics as the instructional medium." Think of LDAC as a baby step towards Ranger School -- a chance to develop light infantry basic skills, get experience leading a group of Soldiers you just met, and identify early weaknesses to work on before you head out to your Officer Basic Course.
Also, stop for a moment and think about how you'll actually earn a slot at Ranger School. As an officer, your best chance by far is by branching Infantry. To maximize your chance of doing that, you have to get higher in the ROTC Order of Merit List (OML). And to do that, you have to earn high rankings in your ROTC Regiment.
See how it all fits together? Now let's dig into the details.
The Packing List
Here is an example of an ROTC packing list. "Isn't that list a few years old?" Sure is -- Cadet Command seems to hide the packing list each year, but luckily it doesn't change much. There are a few basic things you'll definitely want to get, so why not buy items you can also use when you get to OBC and then Ranger School? I have already posted the Ranger School packing list with plenty of hints and suggestions, so head over there to check it out. Pay particular attention to items like the headlamp, gloves, etc. -- these are items that should last you years. If you order any items from Amazon, you should sign up for the Student Amazon Prime program -- a good deal that is only available if you have a .edu email address.
You will be carrying your TACSOP with you during your entire time at LDAC, and you'll most likely refer to it oftent during your MS IV year while training the other Cadets. Why not prep it up to last by giving it the same treatment you'll give your Ranger Handbook? I give a good overview on the best methods to use here. Not only will the TACSOP last longer, but you'll also become familiar with this method and figure out your own tricks as you go along.
The Terrain Model Kit
Just like at Ranger School, you'll need an LDAC Terrain Model Kit. You'll use it to plan out operations and brief the other Cadets, and you'll be able to save most of the pieces to reuse at OBC and Ranger. Even if you think you'll lose everything, now is your chance to figure out what works for you -- which pieces are important, do you want to use chalk or not, etc. Here is an entire post on the kit.
If you follow the advice I've already put together, I'm confident LDAC will just be the next step in your path to Ranger School. Remember: train as you fight. Treat LDAC (and every other military experience) with the seriousness it deserves, and the fun will come along with it. Next thing you know, you'll have great skills, great memories, and great opportunities ahead.