By Army Sgt. 1st Class James Sherrill, ASU ROTC, contributing writer
Augusta State University Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, who competed nationally over the summer, received top honors among 270 universities hosting Army ROTC during a ceremony at U.S. Army Cadet Command 6th Brigade Headquarters on Dec.5.
Ten cadets from the ASU ROTC Jaguar Battalion tested their leadership skills during the annual Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), also known as Operation Warrior Forge, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., this past summer.
LDAC is a month-long summer camp for cadets in their junior year of college who are scheduled to commission as Army officers upon completing a bachelor’s degree.
More than half of the ASU officer trainees earned Distinguished Military Graduate status based on their performance at the camp, and 70 percent earned ‘excellent’ ratings – the highest out of 270 universities hosting Army ROTC on campus. The next closest school was Notre Dame with 48 percent ‘excellent’ ratings.
Situated among tall spruces and the majestic scenery of the Pacific Northwest, the course evaluates each cadet on ROTC training such as land navigation, leadership ability, and physical fitness. Cadets also are graded on teamwork by their peers.
ROTC cadets across the country train on campus, sometimes for two or more years, in preparation for the annual competition. Augusta State cadets trained a little harder than most, according to Army Sgt. 1st Class Heriberto Reyes, an ROTC instructor for the Jaguar Battalion.
“We figured out what the minimum training standard for cadets was and then what it would take to exceed the standard. We made that the new standard for our cadets,” said Reyes.
Cadet Edward L. Littrell was one of the students who competed at LDAC over the summer and helped earn the Jaguars’ top rankings.
“It’s easy to come up with an excuse to get out of training, but it’s taking the ‘hard right’ over the ‘easy wrong’ and attend all the training you can,” said Littrell. “This is what makes you better prepared than your peers.”
Because of their performance at camp, most ASU cadets rank high on the U.S. Army Cadet Command Order of Merit List for new lieutenants. This means a full 90 percent of the Jaguar cadets who will commission in May 2013 get their choice of Army officer career field – the highest percentage among 270 host universities.
With the honors earned by the Jaguar Battalion this year, the ASU program is looking to recruit more quality cadets for next year in order to stay on top.
“We are determined to raise the high standards that have been set by current cadets in our program,” said Philander McDomick, recruiting operations officer for the ASU Jaguar Battalion.
“We are targeting our recruiting efforts toward students who are able to multitask and excel both physically and mentally,” he added.