Boarding a bus filled to capacity with college sophomores and juniors during their summer break may seem like a rowdy ride waiting to happen. But these bus riders aren't your average teens. They are the next generation of U.S. Army officers.
Incoming cadets receive their first taste of military life as they arrive at the Fort Knox Army base for the 2013 Leader's Training Course. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
This group of well-behaved young adults is off to the Fort Knox Army base in Radcliff, Kentucky, for the Leadership Training Course (LTC), a rigorous program that condenses two years of entry-level ROTC training into a mere 28 days.
During the summer of 2013, photographer Michael Noble Jr., a college student himself, was there to document the sometimes grueling journey. "I followed this group from the second they arrived at the airport to inflow to graduation," he said in an interview.
Cadet Rose Lee fills out entry forms on the back of fellow cadet Nikki McBride. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Drill Sergeant Sergio Mesa yells at an arriving cadet. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
The program can be broken down into four phases testing the cadets' mental, physical, and emotional strength. "Soldier first phase" involves physical training, drills, and team development; "warrior leader phase" is a mix of water survival training, rappelling, marksmanship, urban combat, squad tactics, and orienteering; "bold leader phase" is mostly field exercises; and "future leader phase" is a comprehensive review that ends with graduation.
The days may be long, harrowing, and packed, but completing the program can be a first step toward a future in the Army. Below, a glimpse at the next promising generation of U.S. Army officers.
Cadet Ramon Allbritton carries fellow cadet Evan Gardner who was "wounded" in the Squad Training Exercise. In this exercise cadets take part in simulated combat using paintball guns to conduct their ambushes and assaults. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Cadets of Bravo Company dig into their field rations as they take a break from training on the assault course. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Cadet Nikita Peters shows off her ripped-up hands after completing the high ropes course. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Cadets practice locking, loading, and unloading their weapons with their eyes closed. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Drill Sergeant Torres leads his cadets in a chant before they start their second round of basic rifle marksmanship at the qualifying range. | (Michael Noble Jr.)
Cadets salute their drill sergeants, cadre, and their parents at their graduation for the last time as LTC cadets. | (Michael Noble Jr.)