DAHLONEGA, GA (05/03/2021)– Cadets from the University of North Georgia (UNG) generally spend the summer between their junior and senior years experiencing the grueling Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed that training to an academic-year-long effort known as Operation Agile Leader for seniors on campus.
Operation Agile Leader was the Army-mandated replacement in 2020-21 for Advanced Camp, which cadets must complete to be commissioned in the military. Cadets are tested on areas that include rifle marksmanship, hand grenades, first aid, Army combat fitness, and land navigation.
John Steele of Loganville was one of 69 cadets who completed OAL training.
“It’s a way to ensure our graduating cadets who are commissioning are prepared to go on to their Basic Officer Leader Course,” said Col. Joshua D. Wright, UNG’s professor of military science.
Operation Agile Leader allows the U.S. Army Cadet Command to assess the cadets’ proficiency as future officers. This evaluation helps determine the cadets’ rank in the Order of Merit List, which is used to determine which cadets are Distinguished Military Students and Distinguished Military Graduates.
“It still offered them the chance to test their individual skills, as well as their leadership competencies,” said Maj. Joshua Larson, assistant professor of military science at UNG. “There’s so much going on right now. For us, it was trying to have a little bit of normalcy. Obviously, we had to do some things differently when we trained.”
Cadet Maj. Alison Gaynor, a senior from Hiram, Georgia, pursuing a degree in marketing, was grateful for her preparation.
“UNG’s Leadership Development Program prepared me well for Operation Agile Leader,” Gaynor said. “It feels like a regular school year with extra training. We’re proud of what we did junior year to get ready for this.”
Cadet Capt. Carson Doyle, commander of Golf Company in UNG’s Corps of Cadets, said the cadre and cadet leadership did a great job of balancing normal corps activities with Operation Agile Leader.
“The professor of military science and his staff were organized and did everything they could to help us get certified to commission on time,” said Doyle, a senior from Roanoke, Virginia, pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies.
Positioned in the fastest-growing region of the state, the University of North Georgia comprises five campuses united by a single mission focused on academic excellence and academic and co-curricular programs that develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society. The University of North Georgia is a University System of Georgia leadership institution and is The Military College of Georgia. With more than 20,000 students, the University of North Georgia is one of the state’s largest public universities. The university offers more than 100 programs of study ranging from certificate and associate degrees to professional doctoral programs.