Big plans for the Summer

One question I always get about Army ROTC is what do you do during the Summer, is there a Summer training requirement? The only Summer requirement is to attend the Leadership Development and Assessment Camp (LDAC), typically between your Junior and Senior year. This year the GKB plans to send 19 cadets to Fort Lewis, Washington for the camp. This camp is essentially the “final exam” for the ROTC program. But, along with this requirement there are many opportunities to take part in Army training and professional development opportunities. There are opportunities for adventure training like Airborne, Air Assault, and mountain warfare school. Golden Knight Battalion cadets will be learning how to jump out of Airplanes, work with Army Helicopters, and conduct military operations in mountainous terain.

This year the Army continues to emphasize cultural awareness, so some of the GKB cadets will be taking advantage of the Cadet Command’s Cultural Immersion Program. After sending a cadet to Vietnam two years ago, and a cadet and our PMS visiting Argentina last year this year cadets will spend time in Tanzania, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Finally, we have Juniors who will participate in CTLT opportunities. In conjuction with LDAC, these cadets will spend time with active units experiencing first hand what junior Officers do on a daily basis. Finally, many of our SMP cadets will be participating in Annual Training (AT) with their National Guard or Reserve units. The cadre who aren’t departing this summer will be supporting LDAC, and I’ll be recruiting and preparing the incoming class to contract. So, I hope you have some big plans for this coming summer, we certainly do!

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Why I’m on Twitter

Whenever I mention that I’m on twitter I usually get the rolling of eyes and the groans, and the “I just don’t get twitter”, so I’m going to tell you why you should be on twitter. I know you think that you don’t care what Brittany Spears is up to, or what Ashton Kuchar had for lunch. I’m don’t care either.
Last Summer, at the height of LDAC, as I was trying to track how the cadets from the Golden Knight Battalion were fairing I realized that Cadet Command had delved into Social Media and were using Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr to get the word out about LDAC. I set up my twitter account and started following LDAC, and Lead6 (commander of Cadet Command), and the LTC PAO amongst others. Some of the info was useless info, but some of the tweets alerted me to interesting information that I could access and share if I thought warrented.
Currently I follow any cadet in the Battalion that I can, all the Clarkson University twitter users I can find, and twitter feeds from various Army bases around the country. Sometimes I don’t really need to know that Fort Hood’s 4th of July fireworks show will start at 2100 hours, but it’s nice to know that is the kind of information that I can have real time access to. I follow scholarship and college search organizations, and marketing gurus, and am always getting good information and helpful links from these tweets. With twitter you can also share useful links, photos, and let people know web pages have been updated. A “tweet” will be “tweeted” when this article is posted, and all my followers and friends on Facebook will be alerted that this blog had been updated. They can also “retweet” this information to all their followers, which is the power of twitter. The first time I was retweeted by “armyrotc” I was pretty excited.

Here is what my Tweetdeck looks like

One last tip is to use an aggregator like tweetdeck. What this can do for you is allow you to search for keywords in tweets. In my case I have two columns that search for “ROTC” and “Army ROTC”. If anyone has these words in their tweet I see it. If it is a question, I can pop on and provide my expert advice. It also allows me to see what people are talking about with reference to what I’m interested in.
here is a short list of some of the people I follow:

  • CUinNYCandCT – Clarkson Admissions
  • FortLeavenworth – Fort Leavenworth
  • ArmyWellBeing – Army Well Being
  • MyArmyReserve – Army Reserve Information
  • Twitter_Tips – Twitter Help and tips
  • ClarksonHistory – Clarkson History
  • SignalCorps – Fort Gordon
  • warriorforge – LDAC
  • ClarksonUniv – Clarkson University Information
  • armyrotc – Army ROTC
  • Follow my tweets at clarksonarmy

    Let’s go camping – the MS III year

    Golden Knight Battalion Cadet Jimmy Wheeler

    So, you are a junior in the Golden Knight Battalion. You are in the most demanding and critical year of your ROTC career. At this time you have made a commitment, one way or another. Whether you have been on scholarship and contracted since your first day of school or whether you have returned from the Leadership Training Course (LTC) to enter your junior year, and start what we call the Advanced Course you are now under contract.
    Class for you meets once a week, at night, for three hours. We also still have lab on Thursday, but during lab you will be leading the underclassmen through the training, or will be conducting training focused on the critical skills like the orders process or troop leading procedures (TLPs). You will also be putting in more time outside of class than you have up to this point.
    Why is this the critical year? Because you will be preparing to go to camp (Leadership and Development Camp – LDAC). This camp is your final exam, and to be competitive, and have the utmost control over where you end up in the Army you must do well at camp. In the GKB your junior year will consist of company and squad level leadership assignments during most weeks. You may be responsible for writing and issuing the weekly training plan (squad operation order) for your squad, or you may be the company executive officer responsible for accountability during the week. During the weeks you are in a leadership position you will be evaluated by a senior cadet, and you will also do a self assessment. The evaluation and self assessment are part of what we call the Leadership Development Process or LDP. This process prepares you to recognize and exhibit the leadership dimensions the Army expects our leaders to process. It is the heart of what makes Army ROTC leadership training unique and effective. LDP consists of hands on practice of small group leadership with near constant feedback.
    As an MS III you have hopefully assimilated to college life and have learned how to effectively balance academics and extracurriculars. You have developed the habits of getting out of bed early for PT and eating right to stay fit and healthy. You have developed the ability to stand in front of a group of your peers and speak confidently and effectively. You are able to take charge when you are in charge (or in the absence of leadership), and are able to support the leader when not in charge. By the end of this year you are ready to head to LDAC and be forged into a warrior leader (LDAC is also known as Warrior Forge).
    A future blog will cover LDAC and some of the other summer opportunities for rising seniors.

    Warrior Forge 2008 Yearbook Video from Warrior Forge on Vimeo.

    Productive day

    With the cadets starting break today it’s been a fairly productive day. I’ve added video to the goldenknightBN youtube channel, pictures to the Golden Knight Battalion facebook page, and uploaded the latest newsletter to the GKB website. So tell your friends and family.

    Get to the Choppa!!!

    The freshmen and sophomores of the GKB will be taking to the air this afternoon for their Army ROTC lab. Blackhawks from the New York National Guard will be visiting Potsdam, and the Cadets will be getting the opportunity to ride in a helicopter. There’s a future blog in my head entitled “crazy stuff I’ve done in the Army”, and riding in military helicopters is definitely on the “crazy stuff” list.

    GKB cadets getting ready to fly

    What’s the Commitment??

    Before I talk about the junior year I thought I’d put out a little information about the commitment, because the junior year is the latest a cadet can wait to make a commitment. The commitment is often one of the first questions prospects and parents ask about, so here goes. First remember that we are a very flexible organization and there are many variations on how to enter, and what you are signing up for but this is fairly simple and straightforward.

    Cadet now Lieutenant Hanley reviewing the contract

    You have no commitment unless you are getting paid so unless you are on scholarship, or contracted there is no commitment. That means if you aren’t sure whether being an Army Officer is for you, take the class and make an informed decision!

    Any time you join the military you are signing up for 8 years. When that recruiter downtown tells you that you are enlisting for 3 years to repair HMMVWs or play the oboe in the Army Band, there are 5 more years on the backside of that enlistment where you will be “on a list”. Being “on the list” is called being in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR). In the old days being on the list wasn’t a big deal, but during the current conflicts members of the IRR were called back to active service (I was one of them). It’s not a big deal, and it’s not a trick or some nefarious plot, it’s just not something that is mentioned up front and it is usually not an issue.

    OK, so if you contract you are agreeing to make yourself available for some type of service for the next 8 years. There are basically 2 flavors, and two variations of commitment. Whether you contract as a freshman, or junior it is still one of 4 options.

    Scholarship – if you receive scholarship benefits (4 year, 3 year, 2 year, or 1 year retention) you are committed to serve on active duty for 4 years, OR serve in the National Guard or Reserves for 8 years. If you serve on active duty the balance of your 8 years can be in the IRR, or you can choose to continue to serve in the Guard or Reserves. Nothing is stopping you from serving beyond your commitment (other than your fitness for duty), and there is nothing like reenlisting for officers, so you keep going until you have fulfilled your commitment, retire, or get tired of serving. SO TO RECAP – SCHOLARSHIP = 4 ACTIVE OR 8 GUARD/RESERVES.

    Wheeler contracts 2009

    Cadet Wheeler takes the oath after Army/AF soccer game

    Nonscholarship – If you do not receive a scholarship you can still enroll in ROTC and complete the training and commission. You will have less of a commitment, and you will have received fewer benefits (notice I said fewer, not no benefits). If you contract in your sophomore or junior year you will serve 3 years on active duty or 6 years in the guard or reserve. Again, you can serve the balance of your 8 years in the IRR, or continue to serve in the Active/Guard/Reserve forces until you fulfill your 8 years. When I say you will receive less benefits, you still receive a monthly stipend when you contract, whether scholarship or nonscholarship. Not too many other classes on campus that pay you to take them. TO RECAP – NONSCHOLARSHIP = 3 ACTIVE OR 6 GUARD/RESERVE.

    Why would someone participate without a scholarship? Some cadets are members of the Guard or Reserve while in college (we call them SMP cadets), so they are receiving other benefits instead of tuition or room and board. Some cadets just never qualify or receive a scholarship offer. We don’t have scholarships for everyone. I myself was a non scholarship commissionee many years ago.

    This is the link to the Army ROTC scholarship contract. You can read it for yourself, and if you are resourceful you can probably find the contract for the non scholarship option. They are simple, and straightforward. There are not a lot of promises, and I will devote an upcoming blog on why I like it that way.

    DA Form 597-3

    Hope this helps make clear what a cadet is getting her/himself into. In my opinion, it’s not a bad deal, no matter which option you end up with, including the option of walking away after making an informed decision…I’m all about informed decisions!

    Who wants to go jump out of an airplane this summer??

    Let’s talk about Sophomore year of ROTC. The most significant thing about Sophomore year is the fact that this is when you are most likely to compete for one of the summer adventure training slots, like Airborne school (more on this later). It is also the year when many cadets make up their mind about their future and either makes a commitment or walk away. By this time you have usually got the hang of your studies and you know what to expect from ROTC after watching the upperclassmen prepare for camp or commission. You have had a year to see if getting up early to do physical training (PT) and training in the great outdoors is your “cup of tea”. Some sophomores will compete for campus based scholarships when they are available, and others will explore the option of joining the National Guard or Reserves to help pay for college and get a leg up on their peers in ROTC. This year the sophomores in the Golden Knight Battalion have been given the opportunity to assume some leadership roles. Last Friday I saw some of our MS IIs issuing the order for the week to their squads after PT. It was nice to see them step up and they looked like they knew what they were doing, which means they had been paying attention during the last year and a half.