This summer, while many Shippensburg University students were at the beach, visiting museums or working so they could afford their textbooks for the fall semester, Cadet John Reitz, an SU junior, was overseas in Georgia participating in the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program.
CULP, a program offered by SU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), is designed to get United States military cadets experience in foreign countries.
This past summer, Shippensburg’s Raider Battalion sent 13 cadets to several different countries including Bulgaria, Georgia and Tanzania.
Some, like Reitz, trained alongside foreign military personnel, while others provided aid and assistance to civilians.
However, before Reitz could go to Eastern Europe, he had to spend a week in Fort Knox getting debriefed and meeting some of the other American cadets who would accompany him to Georgia.
He and the other cadets would participate in Mountain Warfare School, often called “Mountain School” for short, alongside native Georgian soldiers as part of the Military to Military Exchange Program.
Once everyone settled in, Reitz and the other American cadets began training alongside the Georgian soldiers.
A lot of what Reitz learned while participating in Mountain School included basic survival skills such as rock climbing, knot-tying and rappelling.
He also continued long distance rucking, which is running with a 40-pound rucksack, to increase his endurance and stamina.
“My favorite part was meeting new foreign soldiers,” Reitz said.
But the program had other benefits outside of social interaction.
“It helped me make relations with foreign military and prepared me for future operations.”
Reitz recommends that other cadets apply for the CULP program.
It gave him the opportunity to travel to another part of the world and advance his military career.
Having been involved in CULP makes him more appealing on the Order of Merit List (OML), which will determine where he will go once he graduates from Shippensburg, completes ROTC and gets commissioned.
The CULP program will be offered again next summer to students involved in the school’s ROTC program.
For more information about the ROTC program and Shippensburg University’s Raider Battalion, visit http://www.ship.edu/rotc/.