Training and planning give cadets lifelong skills
October 13, 2009
Ben Greenlee ’10 (second from right), cadet battalion commander for Dickinson College ROTC, leads an early morning training session at the athletic fields.
There’s no such thing as an 11 a.m. breakfast for these students.
Members of the Dickinson College ROTC program hold their labs in the field—at 6:45 a.m. These early-morning leadership labs include training that will be critical to cadets once they are in the field. But before they reach that goal, they have to learn drill and attack routines, marching, marksmanship and pass their Army physical fitness test. Three hours every week is devoted to honing these skills.
The ROTC difference isn’t just early-morning drills; it is a mentorship program where seniors guide the less experienced cadets.
Instructors, who refer to cadets as ones, twos, threes and fours rather than first-years, sophomores, juniors and seniors, see clear leadership growth during a student’s time on campus.
“When the ones first come in, they are a bit overwhelmed and have a lot on their plate,” said Lt. Col. Adrienne Eckstein, director of the Dickinson-based Blue Mountain Battalion, comprised of 11 area colleges with more than 70 cadets, including 30 Dickinson students. “By the time they leave, their management skills are fantastic. They have a clearer vision about their impact on the world.”
Cadets this year are planning for a Veterans Day road race and pasta dinner in Carlisle, and the annual Ranger Challenge at Fort Indiantown Gap later this fall, where they will showcase their skills against other ROTC groups in events such as land navigation and a 10K march.
For the road race, cadets are honing their management and community-service skills by planning all aspects—from invitations and coordinating with security to making flyers and tracking costs.
“They see there is a lot more to it than saying 'let's organize a race,’” Eckstein said.
Throughout the semester, the fours train the ones, twos and threes. By next spring, the threes will assume more leadership duties as they are mentored by the fours.
One such leader is Ben Greenlee ’10, cadet battalion commander.
“The young men and women who volunteer to serve seek to become confident, assertive leaders whose country asks them to make difficult decisions in their future careers as officers,” said Greenlee, an international-studies major from Chapel Hill, N.C. “It’s not for everyone. Not only does the ROTC program focus on developing leaders, but it also reaches out to the surrounding Carlisle area to build relationships with the community and its veterans.”
Greenlee said many people have asked him why he signed up for the Army, so he appreciates what he says is a rare opportunity to talk about what the Army ROTC program has meant to him.
“Looking back on my freshman year at Dickinson, I think of myself as a young, adolescent male with an inner desire to make something better of myself,” he said. “The senior Dickinson cadets at that time were great guys who really had their act together and demonstrated a great level of commitment and leadership ability. I aspire to be like them. So far, after three years in the program, I have overcome physical and mental obstacles—either willingly or by force—to become that type of leader. It truly is a satisfying feeling. And the best part of it all is that this is only the beginning.”