From the Foxhole: Maximizing collaborative opportunities for new lieutenants

By Col. James Riely U.S. Corps of Engineers

February 28th, 2019 | News, News and Features

In order to positively affect future second lieutenant cohorts, the United States Military Academy at West Point, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and Cadet Command deliberately dialog about ways to increase effectiveness, efficiency, integration and collaboration. These discussions consider each entity’s distinct mission, recruiting pool, developmental model, resources and programmatic scale, but are generally aimed at maximizing leader development effects.
The Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS), Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and the United State Military Academy (USMA) all produce second lieutenants. However, each commissioning source’s participants, purpose, mission, methodologies, resources, expectations and demographics vary.
However, three diverse commissioning sources provide a unique advantage for our Nation’s Army relative to other nations around the world. OCS leverages civilian and enlisted experience and education, allowing the Army to rapidly surge or reduce annual officer commissions as needed through a short, structured Program of Instruction.
ROTC provides an avenue for thousands of civilian college students to commission each year into the Active, Guard or Reserve components through 270-plus geographically-dispersed, university-hosted programs.
This extends the Army’s ability to tap into talent across a much broader spectrum of the American population. This allows ROTC to build diversity into the ranks and provide a bridge between the academic/civilian population and the Army that serves it. While OCS and ROTC are commissioning programs, USMA’s recruiting, mission and resources allow it to serve as the Department of the Army’s foundational institution for developing future second lieutenants.
Its historical location and impressive facilities are not what make USMA the Army’s commissioning institution. It is an institution because of its people, its resources, its programs and its developmental time with future second lieutenants. USMA cadets benefit from robust mentorship and development opportunities over a 47-month sequential and progressive training model that includes unique military, physical and academic graduation requirements completed within the context of a foundational character program and Honor Code.
This is what the taxpayers expect of their military academy. The breadth and depth of military and professional educators, trainers and mentors (former company commanders and higher) available to USMA cadets during Cadet Summer Training and the academic year, as well as the extended leadership experiences offered in the AY and CST are USMA’s institutional advantages.
Today, our graduates are expected to be combined arms, joint, coalition fighters within complex environments immediately upon entry into the force, and when our Nation is in peril (as seen in the Civil War and World War II), it relies on experienced USMA graduates to navigate that peril.
The aforementioned dialog between USMA, TRADOC and Cadet Command looks to identify and capitalized upon opportunities for USMA-ROTC collaboration for the benefit of future 2LT cohorts.
In addition to post-commissioning opportunities at Branch Basic Officer Leadership Course, Ranger school, Sapper school etc., select West Point and Cadet Command cadre/cadets already collaborate at various pre-commissioning venues.
These include: ROTC cadet participation in USMA’s Cadet Field Training (CFT); integration during Cadet Troop Leadership Training (CTLT); integration at Army military schools (e.g. Airborne, etc.); USMA’s Sandhurst Conference; USMA’s Sandhurst Competition (expanded this year to increase ROTC teams from 8 to 16); ROTC’s George C. Marshall Conference; USMA’s National Conference on Ethics in America (NCEA); USMA’s Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA); USMA’s McDonald Leadership Conference (Diversity focused); USMA’s Mission Command Conference; USMA’s War Studies Conference; ROTC’s usage of USMA training areas; and USMA ACS students’ providing cadre support to individual ROTC BN training/education.
With this collaborative foundation in place, recent USMA and Cadet Command team members should continue to look for opportunities to share excellence, build cooperative and collective strength, maximize resources and formulate the connective tissue that can well serve our second lieutenants, our Soldiers and our Nation during the Multi-Domain Operations of the future.