Army general visits ROTC battalion; discusses leadership
September 14, 2012
Santa Clara, Calif.--Cadets from Santa Clara University talked leadership and the latest developments in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) assessment process with Lieutenant General David G. Perkins, commander, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. during his visit to the university Sept. 12.
As the officer charged with leader development for the entire Army, Perkins provided the cadets his insights on the importance of being a commissioned officer.
"Never underestimate the influence you have from you down. When you're a platoon leader your Soldiers are going to expect you to solve their problems. You focus on what you can do to take care of them," said Perkins.
He also emphasized the responsibility cadets will have being a leader.
"You'll be given a lot of challenges, but we'll also be giving you lot of resources. The most important resource is that we'll be giving you the treasure of our nation; that is, our sons and daughters. We are putting them in your charge to lead, whether in combat or preparing for combat. Don't ever forget that. Understand, that is what our nation is counting on you to do, to take care of their sons and daughters," said Perkins.
Cadets and cadre leadership from the university had the opportunity to ask questions and to provide feedback on their ROTC experiences. When asked why the cadets decided to join the program, the answers varied but one theme seemed consistent: the training and leadership skills learned as a cadet are valuable.
"One of the big things I really gained was character development, and having the pure leadership skills that not only could I exercise in ROTC, but also with my peers," said Cadet Chase Vara.
Also discussed during the visit was how the Army is looking at the way cadets are assigned their branch before serving as an officer. Currently the selection relies on an order of merit list that ranks cadets based on their performance. How a cadet performs determines what branch they will be assigned to.
Perkins conveyed that the Army is now looking at a model that assesses the needs and attributes for each specific branch in an attempt to match the cadet with a branch that best matches their skills based on a set of key attributes. He said the concept is currently being tested at West Point, and they have done a good job of matching cadets to a branch of the Army based on the attributes that show success in that branch.
"What the Army is trying to do is a better job at talent management, not personnel assignment. We're trying to manage talent better, whether that is cadets being commissioned, people being chosen for battalion command, what general officer job is assigned what position; we're trying to do a better job managing our talent," said Perkins.
Perkins added that these changes are still in development and would not affect those currently in the cadet corps.
Lieutenant Colonel John Tao, Professor of Military Science at the university gave Perkins a tour of the campus and emphasized the long history ROTC has with Santa Clara. The university has been training officers for over 150 years.
"We've been on this campus for a long time and we're very proud of the fact we've been here, and we have a great relationship with the administration," said Tao. "We won the MacArthur Award two out of three years."
The Mac Arthur Award designation recognized Santa Clara University "Bronco Battalion" as the best ROTC program in the Army in both 2009 and 2011, ranking higher than 274 other programs.