The purpose of LDAC is to assess the leadership ability and potential of cadets during a common experience. The assessment is very important in the determining what type of jobs and training the cadets will get when they come onto active duty in the Army after graduation.
The assessment is a 35 day experience that goes from 5 am to 9 pm everyday and there are no days off. ; The cadets are put into platoons of 30 people and cadets of the platoons are usually strangers when they begin. The cadets go through physical training tests, weapon qualification, and land navigation training. Then they spend time at a confidence course and then at a leadership reaction course. Then they have refresher training on infantry tactics and go to the field. They go to the field for 5 days come in for 2 days and go back out for 7 days. While they are in the field they have only the gear they carry with them. After the field phase, cadets clean gear and out process. Cadets are truly stressed during the training.
The entire focus of the camp is assessing leadership. The cadets take turns leading squads (10 people), platoons (30 people), and companies (120 people). Each cadet is assessed seven times and the evaluator observes the cadet the entire day for the evaluation. There are also self evaluations and peer evaluations. At the end of the camp the leadership ability and potential of the cadet is known with a fairly high level of certainty.
The LDAC is generally seen as the "final exam" for ROTC even though there is still another year of training prior to the commissioning. Seniors then use their experience at camp to train juniors to meet the standards expected of cadets at camp.