Building Leaders: Army ROTC

Soldiers and professors explain the role and characteristics of an Army Officer. During ROTC, Soldiers are challenged to lead through experience and with confidence outside of the classroom.

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The same characteristics that make a good football teammate are the same for what will make a good Army Officer. Me being a division one athlete I can partake in athletics and do Army ROTC at the same time. Where they get challenged a little bit at a time, so that when they get commissioned to become a Second Lieutenant in the Army whether they go off to lead Soldiers in the US Army Reserve, the Army National Guard or on Active Duty, they are able to take that next difficult challenge.

The beam is thirty-five feet and at first it does not sound that much then you get up there and look down and it definitely seems like a long way down. They told me to trust your equipment, trust us; it was not a big deal after the first time. When they first came here they could not imagine themselves doing that. So the courage and self-confidence grows with that kind of challenge. There is this kind of pride with saying that "Wow, I just did that." Being pushed and being pulled you just have to go through it, you have to experience it. Once you overcome it you look back and think I could do this again. We put them in leadership positions. So now if they were never able to speak in public or speak in large crowds, they not only have to speak to them but they have to lead them. They have to give them commands and be good enough themselves that these people respect their commands and do what they are told.

(Background: I want alpha team on my right and bravo teams on my left- make it happen) It is quite an adjustment for most young people to make. An Army leader is really responsible for the families, associated with the Soldiers that they lead, the cadets that come in their very first year that this isn't the time that they are leaving their family, it is something that they are involving their family in. I think that the most important part of every ROTC program is cadre. The men and women, who have been around the world, experience some very different things. We try not to bore the students with war stories but at that same time these war stories are real experiences in which these lessons taught in a book were applicable. Leadership is an art, which most of us know but it cannot occur just in the classroom, one has to pass through the fire of experience.

First you have to learn some of the basics in which you have classroom time and they teach us how to take control of a platoon, a squad. We had two Blackhawk helicopters that came in and picked up my cadets and took them around the battlefield that we created. (Background- you want the squad leader to know were you are; we are working on his control of the situation) It felt like we were out there in a real military situation. I do not have live bullets flying but I have simulator rockets and explosions, stressful conditions of leadership that we can give to them right here in San Diego. You have a better recommendation platooning over the radio; you make that call. Roger that sir. Anytime you are trying to take care of a situation when you have then much going on, it is hard to try to maintain your elements. So that is really when you have to maintain your calm and you poise. One of the biggest things we teach is confidence in themselves when there are twenty people looking at you saying boss, what do I do next.