View Full Version : Efficacy of "teaching" ROTC

12-18-2007, 11:08 AM
I am seriously considering going back to become a Contract ROTC Instructor. I'm very interested in what other SWC members think of teaching MS Is (Freshmen) and what kind of contribution that is to the Long War.

I have my own opinions, that I will share, but want to hear what others think, first.

Steve Blair
12-18-2007, 01:38 PM
I know the way the AF does it is seriously messed up in terms of getting the AS100s hooked and into the program. The AROTC battalion here seems to do ok with its MS1s, although they're about to go very low in cadre so something might slip there.

12-22-2007, 04:29 PM
Drew - it's all about meeting mission - in terms of how many bodies get commissioned. Quality is not important.

This is from a close friend who was an Assistant PMS for three years at a very respected Ivy League-quality school.

12-22-2007, 08:01 PM
I joined ROTC my sophomore year, after talking to the BN recruiting officer. He gave an honest, though highly patriotic speech. I agreed with everything he said, and signed up. He did not misleed me or lie to me. I joined the program and started preparing for summer "basic camp" at knox, which would be my official entry as a cadet. That semester they gave me basic instruction in military courtesy, d+c, tactics, etc... so I would not be lost at the camp. The unit had great cadre and I worked with a MSG that took the time to shape me. I owe my cadet success largely to him, and my junior year instruction, a MAJ, now LTC, that also took the time to work with us as professionals and individuals, and not as just numbers. Our program was small (Worcester, Massachusetts), but I did not see them playing numbers game with the freshmen. Those who did not want to stay, or did not belong there, were weeded out by junior year. That may be unique to my BN, but at "advanced camp," the cadets were generally high caliber and motivated. I can count on one hand the cadets/officers I've met that I really thought should never wear their uniform again. Maybe that will change over the next couple years, but looking at our new LTs, they're still looking good.

You can have a major influence on future Army leaders working with MS 1's. You will probably be their first real Army experience and just like a drill sgt on privates, you can really shape their outlook on the Army. I came in knowing lots of military history, but not much military knowledge. That first year (though a MS 2 technically) really helped me out.

12-23-2007, 11:12 PM
I did the ROTC contractor gig briefly, as only a short contract was available at that place and time. Even over the Summer, I think (or at least like to think) that I had a pretty significant impact on a few of the young warriors there. Your challenge will be slipping thought-provoking heresy into a fairly structured training (as opposed to educational) program. Make no mistake, at that level, it is training with clearly-defined, quantifiable objectives and goals, and only the slimmest leavening of education.

I believe you can have a significant influence as an MS I instructor- I still have a lot of respect for my MS I instructor, MAJ Ralph T. Owens and the lessons that were not part of the POI (regardless of anything else, and there may be folks out in the SWC who know part of that story). The secret is to really talk with the cadets, and acknowledge that the Army they are going into is not the Army you entered (just like the Viet Nam veterans instructing the 2LTs and PVTs going to Grenanda, and Winfield Scott when he wrote doctrine for soldiers who were be the first to have cartridge weapons).

A great experience for me, but very mixed for a number of reasons. Feel free to contact me off-line for more detail.

03-27-2008, 12:42 AM
I echo previous statements which assert that ROTC is directed at accomplishing the commission goal set. While cadets are invariably motivated, very little of the program, if any of it, is designed for developing knowledge and intellect. That largely depends on the specific instructors. My conception of the "officer" may be classic idealism, but it is my belief that the officer should be engaged physically, spiritually, and intellectually with this trade.

This semester, I presented a 30-min brief on Army modularity to my cadet peers; the strategic context which compels development in that direction, the ins and outs of modularity itself and how it seeks to match doctrine, organization, technology, and training, and some of the potential problems and obstacles which will need to be addressed in the near future.

I ran into a brick wall of wide-eyed disinterested cadets who, like me, will soon be directly engaging and influencing the components of modularity regardless of our branch affiliations (for the record, I attempted to make it exciting with nifty pictures of the future force systems, etc). If future officers are unable to engage conceptually with the things which will directly impact their lives, careers, and soldiers, the "big picture" will be lost; particularly in regards to the causes and consequences of the Long War.

Without that kind of knowledge or interest, it will increasingly difficult to not only recognize the actual issues presented to us, but also to address them appropriately.

03-27-2008, 03:11 AM
I thought some more on this, and while I suppose it can be argued that ROTC is designed to teach lieutenants, I would like to claim that a more robust and effective purpose would be to train officers. Specifically, rather than instruct cadets on how to occupy a space for four years, I think a more long-term benefit would be to inspire them to pursue careers. Certainly many cadets will make excellent lieutenants, and some of those will be outstanding career officers, but it seems to me, now at the end of my ROTC experience, that there are some fundamental components that I think are lacking.

Anthony Hoh
03-28-2008, 06:17 AM
Your post caught my attention. My team SGM just came out of cadet command up in Washington State. He and I had a great conversation about the ROTC program, and I wanted to share the insights he gave me. From the NCO Corps side of things, he feels it is probably one of the most important jobs one could ever do. As a test, he had me ask 5 officers who their ROTC cadre were. I was 4 for 5 on them knowing their MST's, and NCO's. This also lead them to sharing a story about camp or another ROTC training event. (usually unsolicited) Some Officers I asked had been in for 10 to 15 years. I was very impressed that they recalled them with such fondness. I realize I am not the mental giant of SWJ. But in my mind I really cant think of a better contribution with long term impacts. If you decide that it is right for you, I wish you unlimited success.

In Service,

03-31-2008, 06:57 AM
Just to update: For financial reasons, I was unable to move back to the US to take that positions, but I'm still considering the field in a year or so.

I have a year left before my current company will pay a portion of "move back" expenses from Germany.