Though military strikes against Afghanistan have recently increased in intensity, Cornell’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) has remained relatively unaffected.
“There is no immediate impact from the current strikes in Afghanistan on Cornell’s ROTC,” said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Sova, Army ROTC. “At the very earliest, an Army cadet might begin his duties 12 weeks after graduation.”
Army ROTC graduates spend at least 12 weeks in a branch basic course, which may be followed by unit specific training. Depending on the individual’s unit mission, the cadet may or may not go to Afghanistan.
Students in the other two Cornell ROTC divisions — Air Force and Naval — must also receive additional training after completing basic training at Cornell.
“When Air Force ROTC students graduate, they’ll be commissioned,” said Colonel James Wilson, Air Force ROTC. “After that, some seniors might go to pilot training for one year and then to weapons system training for a specific type of airplane, for one-half to a full year.”
Naval ROTC graduates would not be sent to Afghanistan until at least six months after graduation, if they travel there at all, said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Minor, Naval ROTC.
Of the 54 Army cadets, 57 Air Force cadets and 61 Naval midshipmen, few have the possibility to be called to duty.
Those who might be called up include approximately a half dozen students in Army ROTC who are in the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP), Sova said.
SMP students are enlisted personnel in the Reserves or National Guard.
“If I were called up, I would much rather do something domestic, such as helping with airport security, but I would go overseas without any hesitation,” said Thomas Ricketts ’03, a member of the SMP.
“If these units mobilize to support the effort, these students would [most likely] not be called up because they are pursuing higher education [and] their academic degrees come first and foremost,” Sova said.
“It would take a presidential call-up to the individual’s name to take these students out of college, and this is a very remote chance,” Sova added.
The education of cadets and midshipmen are also largely unaffected by the Afghanistan strikes.
In the Air Force, “we study the lessons learned of any conflict usually for two or three years after it occurred,” Wilson said.
“We will factor the new world terrorism and current events into the way we do business, though we won’t jump the gun,” he added.
Nevertheless, as with other ROTC programs throughout the nation, students receive a general training, uncoupled from lessons learned from Afghanistan, Wilson said.
Training, however, has modified the attitudes of some cadets.
“Now, field training seems more important to really study and master because we might have to use this overseas in a few years,” Ricketts said.
Another result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been increased awareness of military service, though it is unclear how this will affect the number of ROTC recruits.
“This year, about 180 people have expressed interest in both ROTC and Cornell, which is similar to other years, though it’s too early to tell if the military situation will [eventually] increase ROTC enrollment,” Sova said.
“Our desire is for students to be able to pursue their goal and objectives