Starting Strong: ROTC to Army Officer

Rose is in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for a challenge and as a way to pay for college, but is her work ethic enough to lead as an Army Officer?

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The show you are watching is real. These people are not actors. You will follow a potential Army recruit with a backstage pass as they learn about Army life, careers and themselves. At the end, they’ll make a life-changing decision. Join the Army or remain a civilian. This recruit’s journey starts now.


One of the most rewarding ways to become a leader is through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps – ROTC. ROTC cadets can get full college tuition while getting an education in the most valuable skill of all – how to lead others. From ROTC through a career as an officer, it’s a demanding journey that pays huge rewards. And that’s what one potential ROTC cadet is about to find out.

My name is Rose Fox, I’m 18 years old and I’m just about to enter college.

There’s no guarantee that when you graduate college, you’re gonna have a job. If you do ROTC, you get out of college, you go straight to work. And you’re a Second Lieutenant.

I have a sense of dedication and work ethic. I think I have a lot to offer to the Army.

Platoon. Attention.

Staff Sergeant Timothy Whittington is a platoon sergeant in the 66th Military Police Company. He served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and been awarded the Bronze Star. He’ll be Rose’s mentor and guide through her Army training.

This is Rose Fox, alright, she’s going to be with us the next couple of days.

I’m really interested in seeing what it takes to be an Army officer and get a little sneak peek into what my life could be like after ROTC.

Attention. Ma’am.

If Rose joins ROTC, she would enter service as a second lieutenant. To give her some insight into what it takes, her battle buddy will be Second Lieutenant Alexandra Oberoi.

I personally commissioned through ROTC, so hopefully I’ll be able to give you a little bit better of insight of what to expect from that if you were to go into ROTC.

Thank you.

The summer before their senior year, ROTC cadets come to Fort Lewis for the 29-day leader development and assessment course. Today Rose will join them for a taste of ROTC training on Fort Lewis’ grueling obstacle course.

You ready?


I consider myself in shape, but I don’t know what the Army standards are for physical fitness.

Heads up!

Good job Rose, keep pushing.

There ya go!

Good job.

This is Regensburg, a mock village where Soldiers sharpen their skills.

One of the operations we do, the simplest of the service operations, you may think of it as riot control, so what we’re gonna do now is we’re gonna show you how to actually assemble your squad and get them ready for move-in.

Today will be all about her leadership. And since she wants to be a commissioned officer, then this will be a test.

One of the biggest things is using a strong command voice.

If she’s not loud enough, if she’s not in command, then she will fail at this.

Squad. Attention. Left face. Your left. Move.

Hold the line. Get up on, get up on line.

If they’re not moving the way that you need to, then you need to start yelling. Make them do what they’re supposed to be doing.

Yeah, this is just kind of a new situation for me, using my aggression and my man voice is…it’s different.

You can tell she’s never had to use a stern voice before and it’s not really in her natural personality to be forceful.

It’s time to turn up the pressure on Rose’s training. There’s a humanitarian aid station that is out of supplies. The town people are upset at the fact that they want more supplies. Success for this mission will come if you’re able to quell any threats.

Begin the exercise!

Same old song and dance every day. Let’s go.

Hey let’s do something about this. I’m sick of this. Let’s do something now.

Sir, is there anything I can help you with?

How about you put down your shield and just talk to me?

Sir we’re just here to protect the building. You stand back, or I will have my men come at you. Sir. I’m just trying to figure out what you’re doing. Three steps forward, march.

You’re gonna sit there, how about you come here and take that?

Sir. You need to listen to me. Sir! Sir!

Hey man, drop your shield, drop your shield.


Is that all you’re gonna give me?

You stay there. You hold your line men. Hold the line.


I had people throwing stuff at me and it kind of felt like there was going to be no end to it.

We will stop if you tell us what you need.

Pick out the troublemakers in the group and tell them that you want to talk to them, and if they are willing to come in and talk, then we can deal with it.

Sir, we will talk to you and are willing to deal with you if you would like to come in.

It felt good once I had the situation under control. It was definitely difficult getting there.

Alright guys, go back to your homes. Stay there. Stay calm. We’re gonna go talk to these individuals.

Squad, go ahead and go back to the building. Fall out.

Rose went out there and performed exceptionally well actually. You tried yelling, you tried talking, you tried communicating with your Soldiers, you tried holding the line. A lot better than a lot of Soldiers do when they first get to experience this.

You’ve had a very exciting week. It’s been an adventure, it’s been a journey. Now it’s time to make the final decision. Rose, do you want to join the U.S. Army or remain a civilian?