The University of South Dakota
CDT S3 Vanessa Misola instructs new cadets on terrain features prior to a Land Navigation Lab

Land Navigation Lab

CDT S3 Vanessa Misola instructs new cadets on terrain features prior to a Land Navigation Lab

Military instruction and Army ROTC at the Prairie Fire Battalion have a rich history dating back prior to South Dakota’s statehood.  From our humble start in 1881 to today the Cadets of the Prairie Fire Battalion have been leaders on campus and in the community.  ROTC at USD is conducted through the Department of Military Science, one of 22 academic departments that comprise the College of Arts and Sciences. Military Science incorporates educational opportunities in three areas: classroom instruction, leadership training and related extracurricular activities. The ROTC program maximizes the opportunity for college students to study and participate in America's defense. Whether the student desires only an introduction to leadership principles and National Defense or is motivated toward a career as a military officer, every effort is made to provide the knowledge and experience needed to fulfill each individual's goal.

Battalion History

Civil War veteran Colonel John L. Jolley began military instruction in the Dakota Territory at the University of South Dakota in 1881. COL Jolley volunteered his services as the first military instructor and conducted military drills and exercises. When South Dakota became a state in November of 1889, the Department of War was unable to assign an officer to the University. When Dr. Edward Olson became University President, all male students were required to enroll in military instruction. The first officer named to the position of Professor of Military Science and Tactics was Lieutenant Alfred C. Sharpe. The instruction included military procedures of court-martials and students were required to attend drill five days a week. Officers were assigned by the Department of War and then sent off to active duty, often without replacement for several years. During the interim periods, senior students maintained the military program here at the University.

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