There I was…

A little while back I got to thinking about what our cadets have planned for the summer, and how unique those opportunities are, and the type of out of the ordinary things we do in the military. After living in the North Country for a few years, and encountering many people who have never lived any other place than Northern New York, one of the first things about the Army that comes to mind is the opportunity to travel and live in other places. Here is a chronology of where I have lived/served:

  • Fort Benning, Georgia
  • Ranger School (Delanagha, GA, Dugway Proving Grounds, UT, Eglin AFB, FL)
  • Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • Fort Campbell, Kentucky
  • Fort Sill, Oklahoma
  • Fort Gordon, Georgia
  • Friedberg, Germany
  • Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait
  • Bad Kreuznach, Germany
  • Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Fort Irwin, California
  • Bagram, Afghanistan
  • While in Afghanistan I visited Uzbechistan, Kyrgystan, and Qatar.
    The Army also provides the opportunity to do many things that are unique to the military. I’ve learned a lot of valuable skills like navigating with a map and compass, working with tactical radios, firing weapons and helping others learn Basic Rifle Marksmanship. I’ve Briefed Generals, and counseled privates. I’ve driven HMMVWs and ridden in Blackhawk, Huey, and Chinook helicopters. I’ve driven a manual transmission pickup truck with a steering wheel on the right side, shifting with my left hand in Afghanistan. I’ve jumped out of airplanes, and driven in the dark of night with night vision goggles. I’ve wandered around the woods at night with a map and compass, and I’ve slept on the ground, under the stars, more than a couple times. Most of my peers and coworkers have similar experiences, and we love nothing more than to tell the “war story” about doing something out of the ordinary. If you are the type of person who would like to do things like the things I have described I would encourage you to talk to veterans, or people who are currently serving. If you find that you want to give it a try talk to an Army ROTC program or a recruiter in your area. http://www.goarmy.com is a good place to start exploring how to have your own adventures and start living your own “war story”.

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    Pre-Med

    Here is the question that was part of an email I received a couple weeks back-

    I was wondering on how the program would fit in with a pre-med track. Would one be enlisted upon graduation from Clarkson or after completion of Medical School.

    Here is my reply –

    With regards to pre-med. There are no guarantees that if you are a premed student you will serve in a medical branch, or that the Army will facilitate your future medical education. If you complete 4 years of ROTC you will commission into the active force or into the Guard/Reserves and serve part time. You will have the opportunity to request an educational delay to go on to graduate school if you choose to go active duty (there are no guarantees, and it is very competitive), or you can choose to commission into the Guard or Reserves and go on to med school while serving part time as an Army Officer. So, enlisting is not something we do…we get commissioned as Army Officers.

    I know at face value that doesn’t sound like you are getting a lot for your commitment to serve, but what you will get is excellent leadership training, a guaranteed management opportunity in our organization when you graduate, and the camaraderie and support of the your fellow cadets and the cadre.

    to learn more about the opportunities to serve in the medical field I would encourage all who are interested to contact a medical recruiter. There are some great opportunities, and Army ROTC can even be a path to serving in that field, but we are one path that isn’t 100%.

    Are we there yet?? Senior year in the GKB

    You’ve completed camp and you’re in your senior year. Welcome to your MS IV year in ROTC. The first order of business for the seniors, at least each fall is to finalize the training plan for the upcoming semester. We bring the seniors back a week early to school and they spend a week finalizing the training calendar, assigning responsibility for the weeks, and coordinating the staff. The week usually ends with a whitewater trip.

    GKB seniors taking a break from planning

    The seniors fill the staff positions of a typical Battalion staff. Everything from the Battalion Commander to the personnel officer to the assistant operations officer. 2007 early morning staff meetingAlso during this week the seniors will undergo Leadership Development Program (LDP) training. During this training they will baseline how they will evaluate and grade the company and squad level leaders (MS IIIs)during the upcoming year. One senior will be designated the LDP officer, and he or she will monitor and consolidate the evaluations for the upcoming year. This process is the heart of what Army ROTC is about, and the unique program that more than any other aspect of Army ROTC, develops the future leaders for the Army. This is a program of hands on leadership/management and problem solving with constant feedback. The underclassmen go through iterations where they are responsible for a weeks worth of tasks. They receive their mission, formulate a plan, communicate that plan to their subordinate cadets, and supervise the execution of that plan. Whether it’s getting everyone to PT in the right uniform, getting color guard members to the game on Friday, ro executing an ambush during the weekly lab the leadership traits the exhibit, or fail to exhibit are noted and chronicled.
    The other significant event as the Seniors return, is branching, where the seniors express their desires for a particular career field, and then the Army Decides what career field they will serve in. this process deserves a post of it’s own, and I will make that happen.
    The seniors will continue to drive the training of the Battalion, and provide the primary evaluation and feedback to the juniors during the year. One lucky MS IV will be responsible for the dining out, our formal event. This responsibility is jokingly referred to as the wedding planner, as the event has all the complexity of a wedding. Another cadet will be responsible for the complex planning and coordination required for the Field Training Exercise (FTX) held each semester. These responsibilities are assigned to help further develop the cadets that are only a couple months away from beginning their military careers. The semester, ROTC training, and their college experience ends with the commissioning ceremony, when the cadets take their oath of office, receive their gold bars, and become second lieutenants.
    Senior year in a nutshell.

     

    Potsdam? Where is that?

    As you look at colleges and ROTC programs, location is important. You will look at colleges that are in the city or in the country, schools that are large and small, known of their liberal art curriculum or their hard core science and engineering. Today I talked to a scholarship applicant that decided that being a member of the Golden Knight Battalion and attending Clarkson University wasn’t the best fit for him. He visited twice, stayed overnight with one of our cadets, and had a good idea what the North Country had to offer. It wasn’t what he was looking for. Although I was disappointed I understood, and was glad that he took the time to evaluate what we had to offer.
    I would hope that if you are considering one of our schools (Clarkson, St Lawrence, SUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Canton) that you have a good idea what you are getting yourself into. If you look at the map you may be surprised that people live here, and that Potsdam is still in the United States. We are located on the north edge of the Adirondacks in the real upstate New York (most people consider anything north of New York City upstate, but we know better).

    Adirondack region high-speed tour from Adirondack Region on Vimeo.

    The most unique thing about this area is that there are 4 quality Universities within 10 miles, and they have a mutual relationship that allows students from all 4 schools to participate in Army ROTC at Clarkson. There are many other unique aspects of the area, from the rural atmosphere, many outdoor opportunities, and educational quality that make it the right fit for the right person. If someone visits our campus, and meets with us it’s a sure sign that they are interested in what we have to offer, and it’s likely that they will be back. We don’t appeal to everyone, but we have more to offer than you would think.

    Here is a list of links that can give you an idea of what the North Country is all about. If we’ve got what you are looking for come check us out.

  • The town of Potsdam – check out the new videos!
  • Associated Colleges of St Lawrence Valley – the organization our 4 schools belong to
  • North Country Public Radio – Award winning public radio serving the North Country
  • Adirondack Mountain Club
  • Main Street Barbers – where cadets get their hair cut and catch up on the local news