PMS: how long do they stay and how enduring are the battalion traditions & strength

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by educateme, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. educateme

    educateme 5-Year Member

    Nov 7, 2009
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    My son had an interview with the PMS of his #1 choice school. And then he wanted to personally visit two more PMSs (#2 and #4 school - #3 was an ultra safety that is also 6 hours away, so he only emailed/talked over the phone).

    Since I was not going to let a new driver (got the licence only a month or so ago: a late birthday boy, youngest among his HS senior peers) drive alone for 4+ hours one way, I went with him. Both PMS kept inviting me to the session with my son, so I ended up sitting in both meetings (I was actually surprised by how eager they were to engage me in the process).

    Both meetings were attended not only by the PMS but also his officers (recruiting officer and another one or two).

    What struck me was, how "clueful" or not these two battalions appeared to me.

    Both schools are highly competitive schools with very strong academic reputation. Yet, in one battalion, the officers were truly on top of things, seem to be really in cahoot :smile: with the school's admission officers, knew exactly what to advise and how to help their ROTC candidates so that their scholarship winners have an excellent shot at getting admitted. Everything was organized perfectly. When my son walked in, it was clear that his file was very thoroughly reviewed by all the officers in the room, etc. When they were describing.

    When my son asked about some highly selective summer training exercises he would love to be included in as early as possible, the PMS told him that normally each battalion is assigned only 2 spots, but somehow he managed to send over 10 from his battalion. I don't know how: perhaps he knows how to "work" the system, etc. Most of their cadets were getting their top first choice branch assignment with a few who got #2 choice. Granted, the cadets must be excellent, but I also have the feeling that the battalion officers were expert cowboys, directing the herd in the right direction. It was clear they knew exactly how to help their cadets be prepared for the best outcome.

    In the other battalion, it was completely the opposite. The recruiting officer appear to know even less than I do about how that school's admission policies operate (he even said he has no idea how the admissions operate), they did not read my son's file before the meeting, their answers to my sons questions were rather disorganized, etc. The officers seemed overwhelmed with attrition problem. In general, they did not appear on top of everything, etc.

    I believe my son's experience as a cadet will be greatly enhanced if he is working under "terrific management". Just like any business, a CEO and his/her management team can make or break a business. Likewise, a terrific PMS and a well run battalion officer team will make a huge a difference in the way the ROTC unit is running and outcome for the cadets.

    What I am not sure is whether this is really up to a particular PMS's style of operation or whether there is such a thing as an enduring "organizational culture and competency". I understand that PMSs rotate out in a couple of years or so. If that's case, it's not clear whether a battalion that is run so well now will also operate at that level 2 years down the road.

    My son was so impressed with the PMS and his officers at his #2 school and how they operate, he is even thinking maybe this should be his #1 now. But, what would happen if this PMS and his officers rotate out in a couple of years?

    How much of the perceived excellence in the way battalion operate is an enduring quality that my son should take into consideration for his choice? How much is really based on the top guy (PMS)'s own quality of management?
  2. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent 5-Year Member

    Apr 7, 2009
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    Your observations of the PMS' handling of your son's interviews should be kept in his mind if/when it comes to the choice of unit.

    At some schools there is tradition of working with the ROTC units at others there is no tradition. This could be the unit, but more likely the school that detaches itself from the other.

    You are correct in that officers typically spend no more than 3 years at a unit (unless they have a promotion during the period or are playing out their end of career to retirement). If the cadre is on the same rotation, it can be quite disruptive to a unit. Many units that can sustain continuous success build it on their NCO who doesn't necessarily have the same 3-year-and-out promotion plan.

    In the end, it is actually the cadets who sustain the traditions and quality of the program at the best units, as this is what they are training to do. Learn, lead, and teach. Some of the most telling things we learned about one unit was during a lunch we had with the 2 senior cadets at one campus. They are the ones who are in charge of organizing the routine events, PT, etc. that make up the bulk of ROTC life. Good cadet leadership can overcome the rotation of cadre and sustain a unit.

    Don't get me wrong, the cadre through recruiting great cadets have a great impact on the quality of the unit, but they don't run the day to day experience that your son will live. If your son has a chance, have him communicate with the cadet leadership (look for the Juniors this year) in the units to see who will be guiding him next year.
  3. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

    Feb 10, 2010
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    The Cadre change about every 2 years or so depending on promotions and other factors. My son is a Junior now and has already had a change of PMS and the current one will be leaving after the school year. Next year he will be on his third PMS and second Assistant PMS. One of the Sargents left after his first year and was replaced with a new one this year. So far the only person that has been there all three years is the Master Sargent. We were told by all the PMS my son talked to to make his selection based on the school and how it will meet his needs, his advise was not to select a school based soley on the Cadre or ROTC program since they are always in flux. You need to realize that this is life in the military, people move around a lot and the programs change with each new leadership change. Your son may really like the current Cadre only to see it change the next year.

    While the Cadre teach the MS Classes and oversee the entire program, the cadets really run the daily operations from the top down. The Cadre will help guide things along but it is up the the cadets to implement the programs. There is a vey detailed chain of command with the cadets, the MS4's run the batallion, the MS 3's run the company, depending on the size of the batallion the MS2's have some opportunities for leadership positions.

    My advice would be for your son to look first at the school that best fits him and look second at the ROTC program. He will be more successful if he is happy at the school he is attending.

    One other thing to think about. ROTC become very time consuming as the cadet progresses through the years at school. The frshman year is not too bad, the sophomore yeare gets a bit busier. Once your son reaches his junior year thing start to heat up. He will most likely be in some leadership role which adds to the time required. He will also be training for LDAC that takes place the summer after hius junior year. If he decided to participate in Ranger Challenge that will add even more time as will color guard or other activities he decides to join. There will be time he will have to miss a day or two of school or be gone for entire weekends, this will require good time management skills. My son has told me of cadets that could not handle the extra time required and suffered in the school work or dropped the program altogether. Un fortunatly these days many kids are looking at the ROTC Scholarship as a way to pay for school not realizing the commitment they are sighning up for. Please know I am not implying that this is waht your son is doing, it is more of a general observation. Over the last two years my son has noticed that while the academic stats of the new cadets are higher then when he joined, the caliber of cadets have dropped, great grades and high SAT's does not ensure success in ROTC. ROTC is not easy and it it hard work, my advice is to prepare yourself well for the challenge.
  4. mtnman17

    mtnman17 USMA Appointee 2015 5-Year Member

    Jan 25, 2010
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    They rotate. From what I understand (as told to me by a cadet who had this happen after his soph year) any change doesn't really happen within the actual battalion and such like you're thinking for about 2 years later. The 'great' PMS had spent time grooming his frsh and soph and they were able to step up as juniors and srs and lead the unit.

    My parents don't know too much about the Army and how this process works. They have basically given me the duty of digging out the info I need and presenting it to them in plenty of time and then they help me make big decisions. Worked the same exact way with my Eagle project, graduation project, and my college applications (they were more involved here, both graduated from a 4 yr college and have been able to guide me).

    Because of this, I have gone to places like these forums, to guidance counselors, and a relative who is a LTC. With this post, part of his advice jumped out at me. I came back from a visit to my top college's battalion (exactly as you described school #2 for your son) and my number 3 battalion (Exactly how you described #4). I had proactively arranged both meetings. The first school knew me as good as I know me. The second school didn't know anything at all about me. First school had GREAT management, the other didn't give me a good enough look to tell, I just got to meet with a ROO in training.

    After this meeting, I called my relative and gave him what I had seen over the phone. I told him about school #1's ranger challenge team taking first, the amount who get their branch of choice, etc. I told him the same info I got from the other school as well.

    He told me that the first thing I need to do is get an education. He said that no matter if I went to the #1 battalion in the country or the worst battalion in the country in 4 yrs I would be a 2nd lt. He told me "Pretend you were going to school as a very smart and well rounded recruited athlete who knew he had no chance of going pro. You did know though that you could become a dang good lawyer or doctor someday. Would you only look at conference championship football teams? Or would you look past that and see that a certain school with a subpar football team had a 99% of its students getting into law school, and 85% getting into med school? Would you realize that you can play football wherever but need to work for your future first?" (He was throwing out a random set of numbers. I don't play football and I have no desire to go to med school.) A very solid point. Did my rankings change? No, the #1 school was number one before the visit because of its heralded academics and my choice major program is extremely strong. But it made me look a little deeper into the process and look beyond just the four years of college.
  5. The OC Josh

    The OC Josh 5-Year Member

    Oct 22, 2009
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    I second the advice about the cadets influencing the battalion. I have two excellent Colonels as well as two extremely experienced Master Sergeants as cadre. I highly respect all of them. However, the ones who plan the training are actually the MS4s. The ones who actually do 80% of the teaching are the MS3's in my squad/platoon. While you can't join a school because of particular cadets or cadre, try to get the general feeling of the unit. :thumb:

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