The mission of the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is to partner with universities to recruit, educate, develop, and inspire senior ROTC cadets in order to commission officers of character for the Total Army. Critical to the develop and inspire lines of effort is the Cadet Leaders Course, or CLC, a 30-day immersion program at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and a graduation requirement for all ROTC cadets. The purpose of CLC is to allow the cadets to practice and develop small unit leadership skills while solving complex problems in a tactical environment. It is likely to be the single most impactful training event a cadet completes in his or her time in ROTC, and despite some issues with the course and training methodology, there are a few things cadets attending the training can do to maximize the value of their training and development while there.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders
If you thought the Marine Corps gender integration study would end the debate on women in the infantry, then you’d be wrong. The debate is more contentious than ever. Those who have tried to question the study’s methodology have encountered anchoring bias: It doesn’t matter what’s true; it only matters what gets passed off as truth first. The headlines said that all-male combat units outperformed mixed-gender units; therefore, women should be kept out of the infantry. However, viewed from another perspective, the study’s data reveals that some women performed better than some men and it’s time the military community seriously consider those implications.
It’s a common phrase: the Profession of Arms. I remember taking the oath of affirmation the day before starting my junior year at West Point and shaking many officers’ hands afterward, all attached to smiling faces uttering the phrase, “Welcome to the Profession of Arms.”
Financial planners will tell their clients that the single most important element of investing and building wealth is the time value of money. Investing early sets one’s growth potential on a much steeper trajectory. Investment in human potential is no different. Providing outstanding role models early in a career and pairing that with excellent mentorship is the key to maximizing the potential of our human capital. In that regard, the priority with which we assign officers and noncommissioned officers to our officer development courses is disturbing.
Tactical competence is not the primary desired outcome of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. However, tactics are used as a vehicle to exercise critical thinking and problem solving, to develop adaptability and initiative, to practice teamwork and collaboration, and to build all of the other 21st century soldier competencies that do comprise our primary desired outcomes. Therefore, we must have a recognized baseline level of tactical competence before cadets reach the most important developmental milestone in their cadet careers, the Cadet Leadership Course — a 29-day course completed in the summer prior to a cadet’s final year of ROTC.