VMI Letter and the ROTC programs

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by eagleman, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. eagleman

    eagleman Candidate

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    I received a letter from VMI today notifying all those attending for the Class of 2016 will not necessarily be able to pick which branch they do for ROTC due to downsizing. The letter basically stated that those who either have a scholarship or paln to contract with the armed forces will have a choice betweeen the 4 programs. However, those who plan on not commissioning (and do the civilian route) will be required to do Army ROTC to complete their 8 semesters worth of ROTC credit.

    This brings a couple of questions to my mind.

    First, are they requiring Army ROTC for "non-commissioning individuals" because it has the most funding and aruguably the best leadership program?

    Second, how will this stop those who say they would like to commission and thus pick their ROTC branch, but then decide not to contract?

    Third, Will VMI be the only SMC to do this, or will others follow suit?

    Finally, a more random question. Under the current circumstances, what are hardest and easiest branch to obtain a commission?

    Let me know what you guys think
     
  2. hokiesfan

    hokiesfan Member

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    I can only speak for Virginia Tech, but they have a separate civilian track for those in the Corps not participating in ROTC. Called VPI Company, it has its own classes, PT sessions, etc.
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    That's interesting- I had not heard that. So you have some decisions to make up front.
    I really don't know the answer to any of those questions. I can guess at a couple though: First- I don't think it's the "best leadership program". The Army has always been far and away the largest ROTC program on post and unlike the Navy/Marine Corps program has had a fairly large contingent of cadets who were not going to commission, and another large contingent who were going to commission directly into the USAR or NG. The Air Force had been popular with cadets who really weren't that gungho about going into the military in large part because of it's relatively laid back approach to things military ( during FTX weekends and "military control" days while the Army was out doing LandNAv or field training, the AF would do things like have a dining in or play "ultimate frisbee" -you can see the appeal there). But the AF now has become pretty competitive on allowing cadets to contract and go to SFT and I suspect that they don't particularly want to be a holding patten for guys who are meeting a VMI graduation requirement but won't become AF officers. Perhaps more importantly, I suspect that a major factor here is that Cadets in the Army program have certain protections with commissioning options that the other services do not ( the law that guarantees AD if the PMS recommends it is specific to the Army program). Lots of cadets change their mind during their cadetship and decide they do want to pursue a commission (while lots of others change their mind in the other direction). VMI's intent is to strongly encourage every cadet to commission-right now the Army I suspect is more conducive to supporting those late Cadetship decisions than the other services. A cadet in good standing with the department simply will have more flexibility in the Army if he decides late in his 2d class or even early in 1st class year that he/she wants to commission- and that supports VMI's interests in keeping the commissioning numbers high.

    I believe that the answer to question number two is going to simply be : You must complete 8 semesters of ROTC in order to graduate and if the other Service programs do not allow you to register for their classes without contracting, then you will be up the proverbial creek.

    It's a sign of the budget times- you have some decisions that you need to think about before you even start. Good luck
     
  4. sprog

    sprog Member

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    From what I remember, Army tended to be the most popular choice for Special Students. There was a while when it was Air Force, but the academic (i.e. classroom) requirements were more onerous in AF than in Army, so there was a shift. The Army had more intensive FTX and labs, but Special Students didn't have to do that stuff.

    The thing I remember was that you couldn't participate in Special Student lab until Junior Year, meaning that you had to stick with the ROTC lab/FTX for the first two years. That meant that there were a lot of Rats and Thirds in AF for the first two years (when they could do base visits for FTX and sleep in a bed) who would then switch to Army as Juniors (when they could do SS lab and take the less onerous Army classes-fewer writing assignments and tests). Maybe this was just reflective of the time I was there, but the Army department seemed more friendly to Special Students.

    You can see how, as bruno points out, the AF didn't like this.

    In general, I'd say Army is the best way for Special Students to go. What sucks with this new change, however, is that cadets who are undecided don't really get a chance to explore the branch that most interests them (if that branch is the Navy, Marines, or Air Force). I guess, if you are thinking about pursuing a commission in the Air Force (but have no scholarship), you should still put down AFROTC as your choice. The classes will be geared with the understanding that you want a commission and are pursuing going to Camp to be contracted. The worst thing that can happen is that you change your mind and switch over to the Army as a Special Student.

    I have no idea how AROTC classroom requirements are now; I'm just speaking from my rather dated experience. In the '90s, at VMI, Army guys didn't write as many term papers or have as many tests as AF during the class hours. They did their training in the field mostly, which made it easier for Special Students. Who knows? AROTC may have more classroom work now, so don't base your decision solely on my experiences.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  5. TurkishRunner

    TurkishRunner Member

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    I was just kicked out of Air force at VMI for not commissioning! I'll take a whack at these questions as I talked to the commandant a little bit about this.

    First, are they requiring Army ROTC for "non-commissioning individuals" because it has the most funding and arguably the best leadership program?
    Army is the most lenient on it's policy. Military insurance doesn't cover non-commissioning cadets, but this is supposedly based on the way you interpret the rules. The Army ROTC dept. is less strict about non-coms doing the same things commissioning cadets are, so that is why. It also probably has to do with funding as well though. I know Air force is downsizing regardless.

    Second, how will this stop those who say they would like to commission and thus pick their ROTC branch, but then decide not to contract?
    If you commission, I'm pretty sure you have to sign a contract. It's pretty hard to back out of.

    Third, Will VMI be the only SMC to do this, or will others follow suit?
    Not sure on this one, but the other SMCs will probably do something similair

    Finally, a more random question. Under the current circumstances, what are hardest and easiest branch to obtain a commission?
    Air force and marines are probably the hardest because they are both down-sizing. Army is pretty easy to commission into, and Navy just has some extra class requirements like physics and calculus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  6. sprog

    sprog Member

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    This makes me wonder how happy the AROTC department will be to take in all the Special Students (at least all those in the last two years of school). I guess they always have had a lot of them, and as I said, seem to be the most friendly to them.

    Still...

    This is the first I've ever heard of this happening at VMI. Makes me curious as to how long the 4-year ROTC requirement will stay alive at the Very Merry. If the service departments don't want to offer classes to Junior and Senior Special Students, maybe there should be some alternative to fill the graduation requirement (like required leadership classes that would more likely integrate with Special Student lab). I don't know how the alums would feel about that, but I must admit that the ROTC requirement really didn't do much for Spec Studs in their last two years while I was at VMI. Most of the ones I knew *****ed about going to ROTC class on a weekly basis. The ROTC requirement is part of the school's ethos, though, so I guess I'm conflicted ("citizen soldier" and all that). On the plus side, removing the ROTC requirement for Spec Studs might let the ROTC departments focus more of their energies onto commissioning cadets (where most of it is, rightfully, focused anyway).

    I dunno...I have a feeling VMI isn't going to reduce its ROTC requirement. Looks like AROTC will just grow all the more larger.
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I have to ask, not having any experience with SMC's. Do they really call them "Special Students"
     
  8. sprog

    sprog Member

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    At VMI, non-commissioning cadets are called Special Students (aka "Spec Studs"). At least, they were in the '90s.

    No idea how it is at the other SMCs.
     
  9. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Currently, members of the Corps of Cadets at Norwich are required to be enrolled in ROTC. http://www.norwich.edu/cadets/rotcrequirements.html But I expect that this will change if the expected force reductions prove to be true (conflict with Iran will sharply change things, I expect).

    I also expect that there will be drama from the current cadets at all of the SMCs (as there is whenever change occurs). In the 1990's, Norwich had a Peace Corps option. http://thenorwichrecord.com/?p=2513

    Jcleppe, I never heard the term "Special Students" at Norwich. Must be a VMI-coined term.
     
  10. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    At VMI everyone is required to take ROTC for a grade- but they don't have to contract (nor do they have to contract at Norwich or the Citadel etc..). When I was a Cadet they were called "Special Students" as well though it had a somewhat different conotation then. At that point we all were required to take a commission if tendered- so those who were getting out of commissioning were a real minority- usually because of the physical- were called "special students"- you can see in the yearbook where you listed your branch a few guys listed "SS". Not perhaps the most palatable of abbreviations:thumbdown:.

    I wouldn't be too surprised if something similar is in the works at other SMC's- like VMI they (at least Norwich and Citadel) require taking 4years of ROTC- but they also do not require contracting or commissioning. Anybody heard of any similar guidance at those places?
     
  11. Packer

    Packer Member

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    At TAMU everybody takes ROTC the first 2 years and those that are not going to commission take classes required to earn a "Leadership Certificate" the last two years.
     
  12. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    This is a little old and on the web

    I think this was in a letter to parents of Norwich Students

    Presidential Announcement: ROTC Policy Changes
    2 September 2010

    Notice to the University Community:

    I would like to dispel any rumors about ROTC for the current school year.

    Regardless of branch of service or class year, if you are contracted, on scholarship, or in the college program, you will continue with your full ROTC requirements for this school year. This includes but is not limited to class, PT, Mil lab, FEX/FTX and other requirements as stipulated by your respective ROTC.

    Nothing has changed about the three-year, six-semester, sequential and progressive ROTC requirement for members of the Corps of Cadets.

    If you are enrolled in Army ROTC, regardless of contract or scholarship status, you will fully participate in Army ROTC to include but not limited to PT, Mil Lab, FTXs, and other training requirements for three years to meet the university Cadet ROTC requirements. Questions regarding enrollment status can be directed to the Army ROTC Cadre.

    If you are in the Navy / Marine ROTC program, but not contracted, not in the Enlisted Commissioning Program, not on scholarship, and not in the college program, and are considering becoming a naval officer, you are highly encouraged to pursue acceptance into the commissioning program. NROTC will provide you with all of the details. If you do not desire to pursue a commission then you must attend the academic class and complete the three-year requirement. You may not participate in ROTC PT, Mil Lab, or FEX events or fundraising in conjunction with the NROTC. Your PT / Mil Lab / and any other training requirements will be dictated by the Office of the Commandant / Norwich University Corps of Cadets.

    If you are in the Air Force ROTC program, but not contracted, not in the Enlisted Commissioning Program, not on scholarship, and not in the college program, and are considering becoming an Air Force officer, you are highly encouraged to pursue acceptance into the commissioning program. AFROTC will provide you with all of the details. If you do not desire to pursue a commission then you must attend the academic class and complete the three- year requirement. You may not participate in PT, Mil Lab, or FEX events or fundraising in conjunction with AFROTC. Your PT / Mil Lab / and any other training requirements will be dictated by the Office of the Commandant / Norwich University Corps of Cadets.

    The above changes are the result of recent new service regulations and guidance received by the respective ROTC from their higher headquarters. These changes were not initiated by Norwich University, the Office of the Commandant, or the NU Corps of Cadets. Norwich is pursuing returning to the previous mode of operation.

    Richard W. Schneider
    President
     
  13. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Another web posting

    Air Force and Naval ROTC Policy Changes
    Naval and Air Force ROTC programs assigned to senior military schools have received a directive regarding non-commissioning track cadets. Effective immediately, Naval and Air Force ROTC cadets who do not desire to, or are unable to, pursue an ROTC commission must fulfill the required ROTC academic curricula and complete the progressive three-year requirement, however, they may no longer participate in ROTC mandated PT, military lab or field training exercises. (This policy change does not affect Army ROTC students at this time.) As a senior military college, Norwich will comply with this change in policy. We are committed to ensuring that all Norwich cadets have an opportunity to participate in these important leadership and training exercises.

    All Norwich University cadets who are presently on a commissioning track will continue with their full ROTC requirements for this school year. This includes, but is not limited to, class, PT, Mil lab, FEX/FTX and other requirements. The Office of the Commandant will be initiating similar PT, leadership and other Tuesday afternoon training exercises for non-commissioning track Naval and Air Force cadets. To view the Presidential Community Announcement visit: www.alumni.norwich.edu/PAROTCpolicychanges.
     
  14. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    The term Special Students is really bad IMO
     
  15. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

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    I'd never even heard it (in this context) until this thread. Pretty sure it's become extinct in the VMI lexicon.

    Thanks,

    Jackie M. Briski
    VMI Class of 2009
     
  16. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    It is probabaly last used in the 1980s
     
  17. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

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    Sprog mentioned being familiar with it, and I think he graduated in the late-1990's. You see, the thing about SMC's is that they're very stuck on tradition, which means they often end up 20-30 years behind the rest of society. :thumb:

    Mandatory commissioning went away in 1994, if I'm not mistaken. My guess is that the term just fell out of use a few years after the rats from that year graduated, since the commission rate had tapered off drastically by that point.

    -jmb-
     
  18. TurkishRunner

    TurkishRunner Member

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    "Special student" is still a pretty common term actually. It's not upsetting or anything. It's just a way to differentiate between the non-com cadets.
     
  19. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

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    Huh. Either it's making a comeback, or I slept through that part of the four years.

    I'd like to think it to be the latter, because that'd be pretty impressive. :cool:
     
  20. TurkishRunner

    TurkishRunner Member

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    Well I'm in Air Force so that's probably why. Half the cadets in air force were non-com/special cadets.
     

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