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Discussion: Army - Navy Orienteering

in: Orienteering; General

Jul 23, 2017 7:14 AM # 
This is an interesting article
Jul 23, 2017 7:47 AM # 
I did not know that event had finally taken place. Hopefully in the future it will be remembered as the historic first.
Th point is made that Navy doesn't particpate in Orienteering as they teach very little land navigation.
So what? Navigation is navigation and besides orienteering is not just land navigation. Orienteering is more about taking information from a source, interpreting it, making a decision based on that information and putting the decision in to action. We all should be doing that, military officers more than most.
Jul 23, 2017 7:50 AM # 
This article is from 17 months ago.
Jul 23, 2017 8:50 AM # 
I know that it is from 17 months go. All the more reason it is surprising that I'd never heard of it. Date of the article is not the point. Point is that one does not have to be a professional land navigator to get something out of orienteering any more than you have to be a professional ball kicker to get something out of soccer/ football.
Jul 23, 2017 7:57 PM # 
There was a more recent Army-Navy competition on December 4, 2016 at Patapsco State Park. The Coast Guard Academy also participated. QOC is hoping to make this an annual thing. And it's interesting that, around here at least, by far the most active of the junior ROTC programs are Navy.
Jul 23, 2017 9:48 PM # 
I have no numbers, but based on orienteering participation alone, it appears that Navy JROTC units outnumber all others.
Jul 23, 2017 11:59 PM # 
FYI, we're including a military division at the 2017 Stockville., after the West Point Orienteering Team came out in 2016.
Jul 24, 2017 7:32 AM # 
Th point is made that Navy doesn't particpate in Orienteering as they teach very little land navigation.

It's like they're not Owen Wilson fans or something. Philistines.
Jul 24, 2017 12:48 PM # 
GuyO Of the 40 or so JROTC units in Florida that participate in orienteering on a somewhat regular basis perhaps four are affiliated with Air Force, three Army, one Marine Corps and the rest have Navy affiliation.
I think it really helps that the Navy partially funds a national orienteering championships for them.
I'm sure that if the Naval Academy scoured their ranks for an orienteering team they would find a good number of midshipmen who had learned the sport in their high school days in JROTC.
Jul 24, 2017 2:01 PM # 
Of the 4 JROTC schools in the MN league, 2 are Navy, and the league leader is Navy, too. Although not the same navigation out at sea, decision making and all other skills practiced in orienteering are still equally valuable as for land navigation entities. And if more decision makers in schools, not just JROTC could grasp the benefits of orienteering/navigation practice on the development of the engineering brain..... well, we can only hope, some day.
Jul 24, 2017 3:11 PM # 
Having stood many bridge watches with binoculars around my neck, in the South China Sea in the 1960's, I can vouch for the value of a basic understanding of navigation.

Altho our charts were mostly pure blue, with few mapped features, an understanding of course plotting, angle of approach, and attack points would have been invaluable when approaching a berth and harbor. However, not much call for solving the 'over or around' dilemma! :-)
Jul 24, 2017 7:51 PM # 
Go Army! Beat Navy!
Jul 25, 2017 4:45 PM # 
Last August, I was successful in convincing the commanding office (CO) of the Army ROTC at the University of Notre Dame that orienteering would be a good activity for the cadets. The CO had some reservations, but decided to spend $ for the entry fee and have his cadets try it. Afterwards, he was thoroughly convinced that orienteering did a great job reenforcing some of the skills the officers wanted their cadets to learn and was an excellent way to foster leadership and build esprit de corps with the cadets.

For the August meet this year the Army ROTC will be returning with all their ~55 cadets. The Air Force ROTC at Notre Dame will have their entire cohort of ~45 cadets participate. In addition, the Navy ROTC at Notre Dame will have it as an optional activity and ~25 of their 110 midshipmen have volunteered to participate. Orienteering resonates with the Marine portion of the Navy.

The Army CO and I invited Army ROTC battalions at nearby universities to attend this August meet. All declined the invitation. My guess is that the 2-3 hour drive was too far. But they might be interested if approached by a local orienteering club.
Jul 26, 2017 4:22 AM # 
This was good to see. And glad to see CG also getting involved!

I echo Gordhun's advocacy for the sport in the military and add that Air Force could stand to be more involved as well for many good reasons: many USAF professions require land nav skills, geospatial skills and 3-dimensional thinking...not to mention you're going to be in a world of hurt if you get shot down & can't navigate well on the ground in hostile territory. Furthermore its been said orienteering is the sport compared to others that most closely resembles combat due to it requiring clear & quick thinking & decision-making along while exerting yourself physically and thinking spatially.

So the case is pretty strong for the military supporting and getting involved in the sport. Especially given the problems w/ spatial illiteracy found to be more common among recruits and trainees these days.

Thankfully the DoD (Armed Forces Sports) has started assembling teams to compete in the World Military Championships starting when we went in 2013 after a 14-year hiatus. Some of the various interscholastic leagues across the country are seeing some JROTC activity. And the good news posted in this thread is great too. But I think there's so much more that can and should be done.

One thing is getting Air Force more involved for obvious reasons... something I'm trying to personally take some responsibility for as an Armed Forces Team member and Air Force guy. We might be able to rekindle Air Force Academy out here in Colorado soon. Hopefully so. Unfortunately the 2 times I've approached AFROTC units there was no real interest or support. I put together an inter-service competition for University of Michigan tri-service ROTC units. Only Army came. So I'm really happy to hear Notre Dame seems to be working out. Great stuff Thurston!

One idea I've yet to pursue is publicizing races / clubs on base at MWR, fitness centers and among units. I think there is potential there. Its a natural sport for a lot of the gun-ho military types. The times I've brought military coworkers with me to events they've loved it.
Jul 26, 2017 8:56 PM # 
I volunteered to organize an orienteering meet to be the 4th sport in the tri-military competition at Notre Dame. The Army was really excited about the possibility. The other two branches were not interested because they felt that this would adversely effect their ability to win the overall competition. So orienteering is not an official 4th sport. I will see what happens after the event in August. Maybe one of the dissenting branches will change their mind.
Jul 26, 2017 9:28 PM # 
We had a group of five AFJROTC members from Clovis, near Fresno, come to the NAV-X event at Shaver Lake last week. There was another AFJROTC group from Carson City, NV, who had signed up, but cancelled because of wildfires in the Sierra.

BAOC has had regular attendance from NJROTC and AFJROTC. Maybe there's something the Juniors are doing that the senior ROTC leadership is missing.
Jul 26, 2017 9:30 PM # 
@Thurston: sad to see that for some it is more about winning and keeping the bar lower, than taking the challenge of a raised bar as well as consider the added knowledge and skills cadets would benefit from if learning to think and navigate quickly.
Jul 26, 2017 9:54 PM # 
That is interesting about the tri-military competition at ND. Ironic, too, because statistically given that many of their students come in from the corresponding branch high school JROTC program the Air Force and especially the Navy branches have a better chance of having experienced orienteers coming in to their program. The experience may already be there and it may be more experience than the Army ROTC have.
As one West Point cadet who learned his orienteering with GAOC that high school experience put him 'head and shoulders' ahead of his Academy classmates when it came to land navigation training.
Jul 26, 2017 10:05 PM # 
@gordhun: would be interesting to ask same cadets to try and compare where they are in relation to classmates without O experience in their other classes, especially engineering classes that require an ability of 3D visualization as well as classes that require decision making and planning similar to interpretation as needed for route choice.
Jul 27, 2017 1:20 AM # 
One idea I've yet to pursue is publicizing races / clubs on base at MWR, fitness centers and among units.

MWR at Fort Leavenworth has a series of light adventure races and coordinates with the local orienteers. They're using a rough map (lidar with additions from air photos and very little field checking). Orienteer Kansas co-hosts one event each year.

They get a lot of families to participate. I regularly meet people at the event who were on the orienteering team at West Point.
Jul 28, 2017 1:36 AM # 
Spike: awesome! Good to hear the MWR effort has worked. That gives me a little more motivation to try it.

@andreais: sad indeed. Not to mention they're probably selling themselves short and making false assumptions about their own capacity to excel. I was involved as an AFROTC cadet in a Ranger Challenge team, which is typically only an Army competition, but we were training to beat Army ROTC units at their own game. We were doing really well. It was very motivational to take on something like that in the spirit of healthy competition and rivalry. And we gained several useful skills and learne some important principles along the way. I would think such a thing would have similar effect to Air Force and Navy cadets in orienteering like it did with me in Ranger Challenge. In the end, however, our effort resulted in Army not allowing us to compete since we were Air Force...go figure.
Jul 28, 2017 3:06 AM # 
Orienteering is not only for Army and Navy.
What about the 17 agencies?
One needs to practice how to chase and catch
the traitors, illegals, or whistle-blowers who ran away and hid in the woods, am I right?
Jul 28, 2017 5:08 PM # 
You may be right yurets. After all they haven't caught either of us yet, eh?
Jul 28, 2017 6:51 PM # 
Interestingly, sometimes O needs a little selling even to the leadership at West Point. I think our most effective point when we were coaching was that orienteering is one of the best ways to practice decision-making under pressure without getting shot at. This is something useful in many roles (including those that don't involve bullets), and one that may appeal to a variety of leadership programs.

Always good to see more military programs that go beyond compass and pace count, and it's good to see so much support from the O community. Woo!
Jul 28, 2017 8:18 PM # 
When I coached Orienteering for Canadian CIOR the officers would always tell me that Orienteering was the best skill they could take back to their unit. The ability to navigate and not get their troops lost in swamps could be a make or break in terms of their leadership development.

This discussion thread is closed.