Early morning runs. Long hours at the gym. Active participation in the classroom. These are all characteristic of the Army ROTC program that is a hidden gem of the RMC community.
For first-year student and Helena native Perriann Bushlen, joining the ROTC program is just one step
toward her future dream of becoming a lawyer for the Army. With a Marine for a mom, along with various other family members, past and present, scattered throughout the armed forces, Bushlen felt that ROTC would be the perfect place for her to get introduced to life in the Army. Originally, Bushlen said she chose RMC for its liberal arts focus. She also, “loved the campus, loved the feel of it, and I was impressed by the placement rates.” While on her campus tour, Bushlen expressed an interest in the ROTC program and, “as soon as the Major found out, he dropped what he was doing and came straight over to talk to me.”
Unlike larger university programs, where half of the cadets are expected to drop out after their first semester, Bushlen said that she liked that the MSU-B/RMC program is interested in recruiting people they know will stick with – and ultimately succeed in – the program.
The mission of the ROTC program is “to commission the future officer leadership of the United States Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard, and motivate young people to be better citizens.” However, Major Adam Karlin, Assistant Professor of Military Science at MSU Billings, believes that the ROTC is much more than that. In order to train and develop the future leaders of the U.S. Army, three key attributes are looked for in college students joining the program, and “those are scholar, athlete, and leader, or SAL for short,” he said.
He further explained that this mix is extremely important because once a cadet graduates and is commissioned, they immediately become an officer. After some additional training, these young officers are typically given the enormous responsibility of leading a platoon made up of around 40 soldiers.
Due to the name, Reserve Officer Training Corps, students might conclude that the program is exclusive to those in pursuit of a military career. Fortunately, this is incorrect. Major Karlin explained that “ROTC is open to anybody. There is no obligation to join the Army, and students can take the 100 and 200 classes just for fun.” In class, ROTC students learn real-life skills like orienteering, rappelling, first aid, and leadership. Bushlen expounded on the program, saying that the cadets learn about ARMY Strong, “which teaches us how to help people out of potentially dangerous situations.” They also learn Army etiquette, such as ranking structure, saluting, etc. “ROTC is a mixture of Army and just being a student,” she said.
Students should know that ROTC is open to everybody. It is not just Army preparation; it is leadership training. ROTC cadets get up early and work out three times a week, that class alone is worth one credit each semester. The instructors would love to see the program grow, even if students are just curious. Orienteering, rappelling, rst aid, leadership, physical tness, helping the community, learning about the inner workings of the Army, and much more are all things students can learn about through the ROTC program. “If anyone is interested in those types of things, we have room for you,” said Major Karlin. “All of the cadets who have graduated from [the MSU-B/RMC] program have gone on to be wildly successful.”
According to the RMC website, “The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps began with President Wilson signing the National Defense Act of 1916.” Military training had been taking place in civilian colleges and universities as early as 1919, but with the signing of this act, this training was brought under a single, federally-controlled entity. Currently, Army ROTC is the largest officer-producing organization with the American military. Scholarships are also often available for ROTC participants.