Is it a bad sign if I despise AFROTC?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by earmark, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. earmark

    earmark New Member

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    Hello,

    I'm a GMC cadet in AFROTC. The issue is that I really hate about 90% of what we do. Group PT sessions are a joke, I have to do supplementary workouts on my own to maintain a high fitness level. Most of what we do in LLAB is geared towards preparing for Field Training, so we do a lot of drill, drill, and more drill. Occasionally we do a fun LLAB like paintball or landnav, but only a couple times a semester. "Leadership ability" seems to be synonymous with "ability to march a flight" in the minds of many cadre and POC cadets. I know that learning to march and learning all the BS in the FT manual is essential for performing well at FT, but it seems that's about all it's good for. I don't feel like I'm becoming a better leader. In my mind leadership is about finding solutions to complex and dynamic problems, communicating those solutions to a team, making plans for smooth logistics, etc. Nothing we do in AFROTC (so far, anyway) really imitates that, and I can't imagine that this stuff will help me as an officer on active duty.

    Anyway, good to get that off my chest. Some cadets seem really gung-ho about the program, which I don't understand at all. I suspect a few others feel the same way as me, and are just playing the cadet land game. Will things be better on active duty, or is this strong dislike of AFROTC activities a bad sign? I f you are wondering, I don't lack the motivation to become a USAF officer, otherwise I would have dropped the program long ago.
     
  2. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Before the flame wars commence

    Let me provide you some perspective.

    First off, are you OK in telling yourself (and perhaps a few others, but I would recommend not doing that anymore) that the AFROTC activities are "a joke"? The drill, the meaningless PT sessions, the lack of real leadership learning and challenges? Well, frankly, sure. It is kind of meaningless if you look at it only on the surface.

    But let's look at it a little deeper, shall we. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of these activities? Obviously, we're the AF. We AIN'T MARCHING to war. But, you are in the VERY FIRST STAGES of becoming a military member. It's BASIC training, just like they teach our newly enlisted. And it's for a purpose. It's an easy activity where you can demonstrate as desire to learn, and more importantly, how to take simple orders on a simple task. Don't think it teaches you leadership? Well then, VOLUNTEER to lead the next drill and demonstrate to your cadre you can teach those who are having a tough time learning the basic steps, you can organize your fight to get the task done, and you can demonstrate that people will listen to you out of respect for your intelligence and confidence, and not by how much you yell at them.

    Group PT a waste? Well, it really isn't there to get YOU in shape, that is what your own PT sessions are for. It's to build teamwork and camaraderie. Be a leader next time and be the one who encourages those struggling with it. Be the one who leads by example by being in the best shape and ready for this simple physical challenge. Trust me, the cadre is looking out for the individuals who do this.

    These are simple tasks simply because we don't expect you as a college freshman just starting out in ROTC to lead the charge into battle tomorrow. We DO expect you to lead that charge 8 or 9 years from now, so we're building up on that experience. When you become a POC, you will quickly learn just how hard it is to organize and motivate freshmen just like you today to get these simple tasks accomplished correctly.

    Is the Active Duty force different? Certainly. For one, everyone knows hw to march and turn in formation, so it makes getting back and forth much easier :biggrin:(just pulling your leg a little, I think I did ceremonial marching only a very few times in my entire 20 year career). I will say this, you'll be asked to do a bunch of things during your career that you consider silly or a waste of your time. But you do it anyway, without complaining. It's called professionalism.

    Let me give you an example. In the fighter community, we take our radio calls VERY seriously. Screw up a simple radio call, such as answering "TWOOP" too slow, or screwing up the radio check-in, and expect to hear about it in debrief, HARSHLY. Why? It really doesn't impact how we do the primary job of killing people and breaking things. But it demonstrates simple professionalism at its basic level. We take THAT very seriously.

    So, put up with the silly and pointless drill, the not-getting-you-in-shape PT, and the emphasis on FT versus actual "leadership training" at this point. It's simply a very basic foundation for the important stuff later. And really, they do have a purpose.

    And ask yourself: "if I'm not ready to handle these simple tasks because I think they're pointless, how ready will I be when someone above me gives me an order that IS important?" But ultimately ask yourself "is putting up with these silly things worth it?" If you're not sure now, you ain't gonna suddenly be sure later, and you're simply wasting your time and the AF's.
     
  3. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    When you mentioned "foundations", you reminded me of one of the best non-military leaders I could ever think of, John Wooden, and his methods of teaching the foundations - things most would think trivial, stressing the importance of these details... Here is a quote of what may be his most famous lessons...

    http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs080/1101703621719/archive/1102765393436.html

    To the OP - Perhaps your upper-class leaders have not done a good job of delivering what is the basics of military life - presenting a professional image, building camaraderie through shared PT, etc. Perhaps you need to take it upon yourself to improve these aspects of your unit, when presented the opportunity. Of course, if you are perceived not to be taking these things seriously, you may never get that opportunity. Food for thought...
     
  4. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    Look, what you are feeling is perfectly normal for many cadets who go on to be officers. In AROTC we used to poke fun and what we did by saying, "Well in cadet-land....". Frankly a lot of the training used in ROTC is to weed out people who can't even make simple standards as well as create an environment that can somehow evaluate the cadets. For AROTC at least the material I learned doesn't even come close to what I learned at my classroom BOLC (Basic Officer Leadership Course) and looking back on everything I realized just how little I learned about the Army. It's okay though, the purpose of ROTC isn't to make you a hard charging 2LT ready to take on the world, it's just a slow moving learning process.

    I suggest you keep with the program as I have had many of the same thoughts as you and am rather content with my choice even after commissioning.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Before I ask anything, can you answer one question?

    Is your social circle, more non-ROTC friends than ROTC friends?

    I ask because this struck me out of your post.
    It leaves me with the feeling that you go to PT and LLAB, but after that is done, you go back to being a college kid.

    NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I am just saying, your non-ROTC friends don't understand ROTC as a college kid.

    ROTC is great for many because it gives a balance of both the future military life, and the current college life. However, it is up to you to balance it. To get the best out of it, IMPHO, it is all up to you.

    I agree that there is a military reason to do all of the BS that you are having issues with, BUT, I also think if you don't have that social circle in ROTC, you are hurting yourself too. I.E. my quote. Your college friends don't get it, and it will frustrate you even more.

    You stay and go SFT, you will be contracted come the fall regardless of being on a scholarship. This will be your life for at least 4 yrs. Next yr if you want rated, that board will make SFT results seem like a cake walk. If non-rated fall of your sr. yr will be the same. Your college peers as jrs. will be living life because they have 18 months come Sept before they have to think about their career, You have 3 months if you want rated, and worse yet, the AF decides your career. You have no voice. Hard to vent if they don't get it regarding why you can't say no.

    Again, in no way, shape or form, am I saying ditch your non-ROTC friends, I am saying if you don't have ROTC friends to confide in, maybe you should look at how your are balancing ROTC and college.

    Just a different POV. Probably the Mom and wife in me that saw just those 2 sentences, and thought is this really about PT and LLAB, and not partially about AFROTC friendships/relationships within the det.

    Like I said, just a Mom and a wife...ignore me.
     
  6. ERAUMattmom

    ERAUMattmom Member

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    Kind of curious...What leadership positions did you hold in high school?
     
  7. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    I think the previous posters hit the nail on the head. When you are a junior/senior take on those leadership positions and learn to motivate the freshman who feel like you do now. That is something you will encounter frequently on active duty and you won't necessarily be dealing with people who share your common goals. Some guys you manage will be gung-ho but many will be disgruntled, maybe just in the service because it's a steady paying job.

    Another thing to consider is that in an environment where you are surrounded by motivated people your standards are skewed. Things that may seem menial and stupid to you are probably things that most people your age incapable of doing and sticking with. I discovered this when I did an internship as a 1/c cadet at CGA. The internship was at the National Security Agency and was extremely difficult to get into as an Ivy/State U college student, I just had to ask to go (My first clue that cadets are viewed in a better light). My baseline work ethic and work product was head and shoulders above my civilian counterparts who were heavily scrutinized before being selected.

    Stick with it. The harder you fight the system the more miserable you will be. Like Pima said, try and be friends with some ROTC guys so you can share in the misery. My fondest memories of CGA were sitting around locked up in the barracks and laughing about how funny/stupid our lives were.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    ERAU,

    I see your train of thought, but my questions would be different. I am assuming your train is you had to crawl before you walked.

    Let's be honest ERAU is a huge det. compared to many other AFROTC dets.

    My question would be more about what size is the det., and do you hold any job now in AFROTC? Most dets., tend to rotate jobs for the GMCs so they can all get a moment in the sun. However, when they become POC's things change, and your success as a GMC will impact your job as a POC. I.E. CWC or CVWC.

    I can recall many times I called our DS and got a short, sharp answer from him.

    Mom, I have 15 recs(flight) to write for AFROTC due at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning for the briefing before PT, 2 essays for school, a test, and OBTW iron my uniform too...love you, but I can't talk.

    I personally wonder if the OP's det is not gung ho like your or my DS's det. DS's det holds 2 formal functions a yr. Dining In and Dining Out. They have 4 AF fraternities. They have a mentor program for every cadet. Maybe that doesn't exist at their det. If it doesn't we need to step back and approach the issue differently!

    JMPO, but I stand by my post, if they offer it and they don't get involved for whatever reason, that is their choice. If AFROTC at their school doesn't have it, than Bullet's post is a wake up call on how to shine!

    Honestly, I hate to be the rude awakening, but the ADAF life is not easy. There is no "I am gone, here's my 2 week notice" when you have 2 yrs left owed.

    There is no I want to go to Eglin and get Mt Home.

    Service before self! If the OP is a 100 or 200, think long and hard, because your needs/desires are back seat to the AF's needs/desires.

    Like I said before, IMPO success and enjoyment in the ADAF world is bonding with your brethren.

    I would also tell earmark read Bullet's post

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=31226

    Hit the link in that post.
    Than make a decision.

    I stand by my position, my life and world was because of our social circle. I was Bullet's landing spot, his peers were the voice of of AF reasoning.

    They were all higher ranking, thus their perspective was different....just like when you become a POC your perspective will be different than when you were a GMC.
     
  9. ERAUMattmom

    ERAUMattmom Member

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    Actually, I was wondering if this particular cadet had held multiple important leadership positions the previous year that might have influenced his/her expectations of what would be learned in LLAB

    It is conceivable, IMPO a cadet that comes into the program having held multiple leadership positions including for example ASB President of a large high school might be inclined to have more expectations of what is being taught in LLAB than a cadet whose leadership experience was limited to maybe president of a smaller club and/or captain of a Varsity team.

    If this happens to be the case all the more reason for Earmark to not only be patient, but to assist and share any knowledge they have brought from his/her experiences with other cadets that have not experienced the same responsibilities.
     
  10. vadad

    vadad Member

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    +1 ^ ++^Pima
    I agree it comes down to expectations. You learn leadership by doing - what works and what doesn't motivate. Some are blessed with natural abilities and some will never master. Take a basic course in managment and you will find formal authority (derived from position) and informal authority (the ability to persuade indirectly). You need to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. If you are truly a natural leader it will be recognized (and quite possibly it already has been but you are being taught humility). The Air Force wants some insight into how you handle the "basics" before they will ever put money and or people's lives under your control. There is a reason it is called a leadership lab.
     
  11. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    No, not a bad sign, but indicative of your need to see the broader picture.

    OP, let me ask you...

    What is the purpose of first year mids at USNA having to learn the exact menu offered at mess each meal? To recite that menu exactly, when asked? Seems sort of pointless, doesn't it? I asked the same question, until I read the real purpose -- to make sure each mid learns to pays attention to the slightest detail, and can execute that detail while under duress. Not very important at mess, but critically important in the heat of battle when men's lives depend on it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  12. pathnottaken

    pathnottaken Member

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    My son is looking into going to a SMC or NA. I have gone on many visits with him and have listened carefully and this is what I gathered from the questions and answers...I think they apply to Stae U ROTC.

    1) The cadet first year is all about learning to FOLLOW! With the point being one has to learn how to follow before one can lead.
    So at State U pratice being the best follower.

    2) The first year also is about building "eternal bonds" with the first years to the left of you and to the right of you. One will not succeed if they don't develop these bonds. They will make or break you; as well as you will make or break them. Someday your life will be in their hands as will their life be in your hands. So at State U develop strong bond with your follow cadets. Enjoy the non-ROTC relationships but not at the expense of building bonds with your follow ROTC memebers.

    I had the same feelings as you did when I was a freshman on ROTC scholarship at Clakson in the early 70's. I spent no time with my follow cadets and thought most of the training was useless. I could out run, out shoot, out think, out plan almost everyone (and I mean freshmen to senior), but the one thing I could not do as well as any of them was to follow. I was having to miserable time in my ROTC classes but a great time at school. Fortunately the army had a major RIF at the end of my second year and they allowed me to resign my scholarship without having to pay anything back. I know from years of reflections and a few visit to SMC with my son the only reason did not not have a career in the Army was because I refused to learn to follow. I blame it on my genetics, I am still that way even after all these years working in engineering.

    Take some time to do some self evaluation and make up your mind as to what you want to do.

    The eastiest path and yet the hardest thing for some of us to do is: Find a goal to commit yourself to, commit yourself to it, re-commit yourself to it each and every day. Do this and you will be happy and successful.
     
  13. GemStateMom

    GemStateMom Member

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    Hello everyone. Reading this thread makes me think about work (I work at a state prison). Where I work, the offenders (or inmates, if you prefer) have to follow very many rigid rules in a highly structured environment. Quite a few of the offenders feel many of these rules are stupid, pointless, inconsequential, etc., and do not understand why these rules are enforced. Our goal is to teach these men HOW to follow rules, whether they think they are stupid or pointless (or not), so that these same men will be successful when released on probation so they don't end up back in the system. I can kind of see a parallel here, as stated in Bullet's post:

     

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