Posted on Nov 30, 2014
1LT Adjutant General Officer
36.4K
67
38
11
11
0
Rotc_patch
What are you thoughts regarding recent college graduates commissioning as Officers? And whether or not prior military experience is important to have when in pursuit of a commission?

I am enlisted (still early in my career) and began college to earn my degrees in Business & Communications. I also started participating in the Army ROTC program at the college and through my experience thus far I've found that it is a very different dynamic compared to the enlisted life - even when it comes to [basic] military etiquette (mostly because it is almost entirely student run). The senior cadets (MS4's) who hold ranks think VERY highly of themselves nonetheless. *However, the cadre and Officers instructing the program are very professional.

Having grown up in a family of veteran's and even through my short time in the military, I've learned to respect those with years of experience and have gone through real, tough hardships and deployments. I even spoke with several of my Senior NCO's and they have even mentioned how they've ran into a few Officers themselves who don't really "get it" quite yet.

With that, I still highly admire those in pursuit of a Commission. It is not an easy route, and a well earned one at that. I believe it is important to continue to show respect and professionalism towards all those appointed over me, no matter what background they may have.

So the basis of my question is that, is prior military experience important before pursuing a commission as an Officer? I am wondering if it is better to wait and gain more overall field training experience and have clearer leadership perspectives to add to my background (deployments and maybe wait until I become an NCO and learn how to lead soldiers) or do I continue with the college ROTC program?

I know that it is important take advantage of opportunities as they arise and that my ambitions include working hard towards earning a commission in the future. Just need reassurance that I'm on a respectful path.

Thank you in advance for your input.
Edited 6 y ago
Avatar_feed
Responses: 19
CPT Student
12
12
0
I would caution to when making a statement like "a bit skewed that a soldier who's been in for over 10 years has to receive orders from an Officer who's just graduated from college who may have little military background." In the past, Civil War era, some officers were commissioned as a COL right off the bat.

Going back to the ROTC issue. No matter where you go in the world you will find that anyone that is Senior by virtue of time may feel superior to these that have just started. I found this funny when I arrived at Fort Benning for basic training and there were some soldiers that were still in-processing calling us cherries. They only arrived two days prior. Unfortunately, those who want the accolades and power have the drive to attain them. In a ROTC program this is very much the case. Once there they position themselves as the so called "Bad Ass" of ROTC. I would just finish what I was doing there and go on my merry way.

As to the point a college grad has the authority to give orders over a soldier that has been in for ten years or so is nothing new. It is how it should be. The line of thought between enlisted and officer are vastly different. I wouldn't us enlisted time or experience to automatically gauge if an officer is going to be successful or not. I have seen some prior service officers fail and not ascend into their new role as they still favor the enlisted way of doing things. Officers focus on the commanders intent at all times. NCOs focus on completing the mission. They are two different goals that intertwine but are different. The issue with some is that NCOs are not minded like officers and may not understand the implications of what the mission is. That is why we have officers.

I will tell you first hand that being enlisted doesn't make you a great officer. I was a SSG with two tour in Iraq. I commissioned, via OCS, and there were new kids that did a better job than me in several areas. I may understand the potential challenges that a mission may have due to my experience but it doesn't mean that I know how a Mechanized Infantry Platoon should conduct a raid in an urban environment.

"Confirm what you think you know, and to learn that which you do not already know." -Ranger Handbook

Nothing rings truer for an leader then that quote. I live by it. A true leader admits that he doesn't know the answer at times. He should not hesitate to confer with his NCOs to find a solution. The issue is with the young officers is that they think they know everything. They do know a lot but they lack the experience. If they fail to admit that they will end up like those "Bad Ass" ROTC cadets.
(12)
Comment
(0)
1LT Adjutant General Officer
1LT (Join to see)
6 y
CPT (Join to see), Thank you for your response, Sir.

I agree with the entirety of your post. It seems that I personally overlooked and failed to acknowledge the history of our military's structure. And that the power of seniority and the feeling of superiority is a natural occurrence and expected among most social institutions, especially in the military.

I especially appreciate your note on the specific focuses of an Officer vs. an NCO. This definitely cleared a lot of my thoughts, especially as I look back upon who I went to seek advice from regarding this area of discussion. I see now where the focuses and viewpoints are and should rightfully be in order to be successful.

It is also reassuring to know that this is learning experience, rather than being thrown with major responsibilities right away. I still personally wish I had more opportunities to gain more experience in the field to add to my background, however I also understand the importance of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. I am confident to say that my ambitions definitely include working towards earning a Commission and I'm hopeful that I will be able to continue to learn and grow within the program. Thank you again for clearing a few thoughts. I appreciate it, you were most helpful, Sir.

Respectfully,

PFC Piega
(1)
Reply
(0)
CPT Student
CPT (Join to see)
6 y
What is important is that you never stop learning. The problem of a know it all is not that they may in fact "know it all" but they stop learning. Soldiers and especially officers should always make an effort to learn more everyday. I commend you, 1LT (Join to see) for opening the discussion and seeking out knowledge. That is why we are all here. It is a challenging to see that new LT with no experience telling a SFC what to do but it is just the way it is. Usually the LT is well prepared but the implementation is what is lacking but that is why they have all the NCOs in the platoon.
(2)
Reply
(0)
1LT Adjutant General Officer
1LT (Join to see)
6 y
Well stated, Sir.

I will be reflecting on your advice as I continue my journey of earning such an honored position. I have no doubts that this will be a rewarding experience overall. Thank you again, Sir.
(2)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
SSG Squad Leader
6
6
0
I know EXACTLY how you feel as I am prior service going to ROTC. Stay the course...it would be better for you at the end.
(6)
Comment
(0)
1LT Adjutant General Officer
1LT (Join to see)
6 y
SSG (Join to see), It's definitely a different atmosphere, but I think I'll stick with it. Thanks for your input.
(1)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
PO3 Certified Advisor   Student Success
5
5
0
I feel for you and I can only hope your ROTC program has the benefit of some curmudgeon veterans being on campus (like I was for my university, lol). I lost track of how many times I pulled a Cadet aside to correct their uniform (especially to remind them about their cover) or impart the wisdom of how their actions might reflect upon their program and the service as a whole.

Most of the better officers I worked with/for were Mustangs (prior enlisted), but Academy grads and ROTC can still be good leaders. As long as we have veterans on campus looking out for them, good instructors in their program, and good NCOs and superior officers to mentor them once they actually get to their duty station, ROTC commissioned officers should turn out to be pretty decent leaders.
(5)
Comment
(0)
1LT Adjutant General Officer
1LT (Join to see)
6 y
PO3 (Join to see), I appreciate your response!

Even as a non-contracted cadet, I also find myself correcting others and helping them out with questions they may have.

I highly agree that good mentorship is a key and rather important aspect when developing our military's leaders. I still continue to question a few who have chosen this career path, but I'm hopeful that everyone pursuing such an honored position will receive the proper guidance they need.

Thank you again for your response, I appreciate it!

Respectfully,

SPC Piega
(1)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small

Join nearly 2 million former and current members of the US military, just like you.

close