CULP trip 2015 – Georgia – Cadet O’Kosky

I’m starting to get my CULPers from this last Summer to get me their trip reports.  As usual we had GKBers traveling the globe doing great work and experiencing new cultures.  Here’s Cadet O’Kosky’s report from the Republic of Georgia and the Sachkhere Mountain School.

I was chosen to attend CULP in order to participate in a military to military mission in the Republic of Georgia. I had the opportunity to work side by side with Georgian soldiers and attend the Sachkhere Mountain School. There I was enrolled in the 19 day Basic Mountain Warfare course, along with 22 other cadets from different battalions from all over the country. Our mission was to interact with the soldiers, immerse ourselves the Georgian Army culture, and successfully complete the course.


Cadet Guilyan O’Kosky and Cadet Alex Mikle prepare to descend a 70m rock face.

The course itself was very demanding both physically and mentally. Our days were filled with long hikes, rock climbing, and rucking through the Georgian countryside. Throughout the course we attended classes, briefings and demonstrations to help us learn as much as we could about the Georgian mountain operations and area we were operating in. During the course we were given small research projects about the Republic of Georgia’s history, the different cities we would visit each Saturday and current relations with its surrounding countries. Each Sunday, a group from each team would brief our class on their research and we would discuss how their relations effect their countries development and culture. Every Friday a group would brief on the city we would travel to the next day. They would cover the itinerary, and a brief history on how the city was developed. Monday through Friday we worked all day out in the sun applying the things we learned during instruction. We climbed natural rock faces, artificial walls, and rappelled at several different heights and faces.   In order to graduate from the course, I had to complete 5 tests during the last week of training. We were tested on knot tying, rock climbing, rappelling, a fixed rope climb, and an obstacle path. We also had complete a 32 mile hike into the Racha Mountains. This long excursion took us a day to reach our base camp 2000m above sea level, which was about 16 miles from our drop off point. The next morning we set out to accend another 250m altitude to the summit of the mountain range, before we packed up camp to head back down the mountain. The Major, who was the head instructor, told us that the hike was used to test soldiers on adapting to the different terrain and altitudes to determine who is qualified to move on to the intermediate course.   All 23 cadets successfully graduated from the basic mountain warfare course, and earned their Georgian mountain badge. I graduated second in my class and was the only female in the top 10.

Buddy Carry

The US cadets had an opportunity to learn rescue carries and techniques This type of buddy carry is used to evacuate injured personal while descending the mountain.

During this mission I learned a lot about how important it is to know how to work with different types of people, and how no matter how much you know there is always room to learn more. Yes, I have rappelled and climbed before, but I have never had an instructor who didn’t really speak English. Not everyone has had the same experience I had, so I was the motivator and tried to be as helpful as I could be to my buddies when they got frustrated. I learned so much about climbing techniques and different mountain movements while we were at the school. My overall experience was incredible. The people I met on the trip are some of the best individuals I have ever worked with so far. I learned that the best way to deal with a language barrier besides using an interpreter, is to point to objects. A lot of the time when we were climbing and the instructors were trying to help us, they would find these big sticks and point to a new hand hold or point to the best lane of travel. I learned that it is so important to listen to others ideas and advice even if you are in a leadership position. The Cadre that were with us, participated in the course as well, and even though they have done some of the stuff we were doing throughout their careers they looked to us for little tips about things like climbing because we could see things from different points of view. I think that goes hand in hand with any type of leadership situation, we all see things from a different point of view, and even though I may be the one in charge doesn’t mean my way is the best way. I learned that sometimes in order to find the best way to do something, you have to look to others for guidance or to bounce ideas off of.

Good report from Cadet O’Kosky.  I’m a little jealous.  Having the opportunity to attend a school like that as a Cadet is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad she had the opportunity and was able to share it with us..

Board dates 2015-2016 scholarship boards

Here they are, the dates for this fall/winter’s board dates. If you are applying for a four year high school Army ROTC scholarship that will start in the fall of 2016, that would be a high school senior in the fall of 2015, these are the dates you should pay attention to.  I post these every year, and the biggest change I see this year is the second board is pushed back a month.

4-year High School Application Opens for SY 16-17 12-Jun-15
1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 2-Oct-15
1st High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 16-Oct-15
1st High School Selection Board 19-Oct-15
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 5-Jan-16
2nd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 22-Jan-16
2nd High School Selection Board 25-Jan-16
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 15-16 10-Jan-16
Final (3rd) HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 29-Feb-16
3rd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 4-Mar-16
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  7-Mar-16

So, what does all this mean.  You should complete your application before the board that makes you the most competitive.  I would recommend you try to get in on one of the first two boards.  Waiting till the deadline and being seen by just one board is never the best course of action.  If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 2 October and reviewed by the first board.

Look at SAT/ACT dates. If you don’t do so well the first time you take those tests your second shot is usually some time shortly after the October board, so you should be shooting for the second board and submitting improved scores if your file isn’t strong. Here’s where you can get some help with those tests, use it.

If you wait until the second or third board your chances are diminished because there will obviously be less allocations available after each board.

As you go through the process make sure you read about all the components (this blog is a good source of information, if I do say so myself) and stay in touch with at least one of the recruiting officers at one of the schools on your list. Notice I said recruiting Officer, and not recruiter…there is a difference.


5 Tips to Survive BOLC



It’s the time of year when we commission our new Lieutenants and they take the next step in their Army journey.  2LT Andrew Nelden was one of our graduates last year.  When he returned over the new year for as stint as a home town recruiter before reporting to his first duty station I asked him to give me some lessons learned from his Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC).  Here are his thoughts.
Cadet NeldenI recently graduated Ordnance BOLC in Fort Lee, Virginia and wanted to pass along a few tips to MSIVs and other new LTs headed there.  BOLC is an excellent learning experience and prepares you to head to your first duty station.  You have the chance to meet other LTs from around the country and have the opportunity to learn from them as well.  A Captain will be assigned as your TAC officer and assist you in learning your branch so you have the most current information the school house has to offer.  To maximize your experience there, here are a few tips to get you through there.

1) Take detailed notes on the topics you cover in the order you cover them.  Every BOLC is broken down into phases where you will learn different pieces of your branch.  By taking detailed notes throughout the course you will set yourself up for success and give you references to look back on.

2) Network. Network. Network.  The other LTs you will have the opportunity to work with will supply you with knowledge at the course and throughout your career.  Make good friends and contacts there because you will see them again!

GKB class of 20143) Ensure your uniforms are correct and to standard.  As an Officer you set the standard for the uniform and it helps show your TAC that you are a professional and ready to lead your platoon.

4) Ask questions!  This is the best time to ask questions from the experts in your field.  If you have any question, you need to ask it.  You go to your unit after this!

5) Have thick skin.  When you get to BOLC, you need to be able to take constructive criticism well and learn from your mistakes.  The delivery may be a bit harsh, so be ready.

LT NeldenAs always, reach out to alumni and classmates from your schools that have gone through BOLC.  They will be able to answer some of you questions and be able to supply you with products and other course materials you may need.

Why didn’t my status change?

I’ve been getting a lot of comment posts, emails, and discussion board inquires about the board process and changes in scholarship application statuses (or lack thereof).   Here are some of the questions and the answers:

The board met today and my status hasn’t changed yet???

The board date is just the start date.  Each board takes about a week to review and score thousands of files. Think about the numbers…each year there are about 10K applicants that complete their file and are boarded.  That means each board is going to be looking at somewhere between 2 and 4 thousand files.  To the best of my knowledge a board is made up of 4-5 Lieutenant Colonels that go to Fort Knox and sit on the board.  They are locked in a room and review files all day.

The answer is…be patient.

My status changed to “boarded”, is an offer imminent???

The board has nothing to do with the offers.  The offer process is separate from the board process.  Once the board is released from that locked room the next step is to take all those file scores, add them to the scores from the previous boards that didn’t get offers and then start working down the list to make offers.  So, essentially someone takes the file with the highest score and looks at the list of schools.  If the first school on the list has allocations left then an offer is made.  If not then we look at the second school on the list and they work down the list of schools.  Some of those offers may be 4 year and some may be three year offers.

The answer is…No…be patient.

Will my status change once the process is over with if I don’t get an offer???

This one is a tough one, because I don’t have visibility of applicant end results.  To the best of my knowledge statuses probably won’t change.  I have seen applicants who didn’t get an offer receive an email in the past encouraging them to enroll in Army ROTC if they still want to become an Army Officer.  I usually send out a similar email to my applicants that don’t get offers, especially the ones I know are still coming to my school.  The bottom line is the scholarship processors at Cadet Command are probably shifting fire to the next project (prepping winners for the following fall, starting to look at next year’s early applicants, dealing with DODMERB issues) and they don’t have time to close the loop with the applicants that didn’t get an offer.

The answer is…probably not.

Here’s the last piece of advice.  Keep in mind that the scholarship processors are a small group of people who do a Herculean task each year.  They just don’t have time to give individual, full service to each and every applicant.  Don’t get frustrated if you status doesn’t change frequently or if your email goes unanswered for a day or two.  I’m a small school ROO who pays close attention to the 100 +/- applicants who list my school each year.  It’s a lot easier for me to answer questions and check statuses then for the folks at CC.  Hopefully the ROO at your school of choice is helpful.



And the Oscar goes to…

This one is hot off the press…Cadet Command just posted an incredibly useful video on Youtube that explains how to apply for an Army ROTC scholarship.  Captain Howard does a great job of explaining how to navigate the website and touches on all the important features, especially that additional information tab.

I wish I had produced this video.  It is just about how I would have conveyed this information.  Kudos to Cadet Command!

It’s been too long. An update from my foxhole

As another school year starts and another Army ROTC scholarship process gets into full swing I just wanted to share a few random thoughts about the view from my foxhole.

My Foxhole

For those of you unfamiliar with the Golden Knight Battalion it is a Battalion made up of 4 schools, all within a 20 minute drive.  We don’t have the partner/crosstown challenges other Battalions have.  We are also 4 relatively small schools.  Two are public (SUNY ) and two are private.  The host is a very supportive University.  Clarkson is known for it’s engineer programs and we are predominantly STEM.  We have excellent training opportunities on campus, in the local area, and at Fort Drum which is 1 hours away.

The scholarship process

The online scholarship process has gotten better over the recent years.  This blog was partly a product of the difficulty of navigating the process in the past.  Currently the site is very user friendly, easy to navigate, and very informative.  I make sure I apply every year, so that I know exactly what applicants are seeing.  in the past I had to ask my applicant what it looked like so that I could give advice.


This is what my application looks like this year.  I have circled the tab for additional information.  That tab will put me out of business if more people start clicking on it, since it contains the information that answers most of the questions I get routinely asked.  Hope no one clicks on it.

Changes in the Cadet Command world

The Army is getting smaller.  Budgets will continue to get tighter.  The way Cadet Command trains future Officers will be significantly different very soon.  All of those are things we can’t control.  That being said, I have more scholarship winners than I have had in quite a few years.  I continue to get my qualified Cadets on campus scholarship offers if they earn them.

The first scholarship board is meeting, the deadlines are approaching, and the world continues to turn.  Hope to find the time to blog more often and continue to help qualified applicants get those scholarships, contracts, and opportunities to serve their country as an Army Officer.


CULP trip 2014 – Thailand – Cadet Forshey

For CULP 2014, I was deployed to the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in Thailand from 24 May to 17 June.  My team of 13 cadets, along with our team leader, taught groups of Thai cadets from first years to four years.  All of the cadets had taken English for several years and needed a certain understanding of the language to get into the academy, but their conversational English skills were lacking because they rarely conversed in English outside of English class.   After classes we were able to play sports with the cadets and we ate meals with them.  We also had the opportunity to teach enlisted soldiers, who had the opportunity to become officers, some drill and ceremony, the way we do.

The enlisted soldiers and our team after a session of D and C.

The enlisted soldiers and our team after a session of D and C.

It was awesome to learn the differences in things such as facing movements and especially how they march at formal occasions.

One of the most exciting things I got to experience was doing their PT test with them.  Their run is a five kilometer run around their academy grounds which finishes in front of the statue of King Chulachomklao.  They run their test as units, and if someone in their unit does not finish in 27:00 minutes, the entire unit fails.  Oh, and did I mention they test is at 1500 (roughly 95ºF with no wind) while they are wearing their ‘ACU’ pants and combat boots? It was amazing to be a part of this experience. They all work together to push and encourage each other to complete this run.

We ate every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, with our cadets from second battalion, under second company's barracks.

We ate every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, with our cadets from second battalion, under second company’s barracks.

On weekends, we went on excursions with our Thai cadets.  The first weekend we went to Kanchanaburi, in the west of Thailand.  We went to an elephant park, Erawan waterfalls national park, the bridge over the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.  The elephant park and the Tiger temple were awesome, because I had never been so close, or even touched animals so big.

Forshey 3

Erawan National park, we hiked to the seventh and final tier of the falls and explored.

The next weekend we went to Ayutthaya, which is the old capital of Thailand.  We went to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace.  This palace is a ‘vacation’ palace of the King and Queen.  It was amazing to see how many images of the King and Queen were all over the cities and villages.  The peoples’ respect for their King and Queen was remarkable.  The following day we went to a market in an old temple square and finished the day by going to the ‘Monkey Temple’.   The monkey temple was a huge abandoned temple because the monkeys had essentially taken over.  The entire city had monkeys crawling all over it.

At the Monkey Temple with Thailand team 3 and our fellow Thai counterparts.

At the Monkey Temple with Thailand team 3 and our fellow Thai counterparts.

During this trip I learned how different other cultures were because I had never been outside of the United States and my perception of other cultures was close-minded.  I went into the experience with an open mind and I learned a lot about Thailand, not only the way the military operates, but also how different traditions are celebrated among the civilians as well.


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