Various static displays of artillery and rocket systems, tanks and helicopters, among other military vehicles, filled the U.S. Military Academy’s central post area as cadets from all classes observed 17 U.S. Army officer branches, with the new addition of public affairs as a functional area during Branch Week Sept. 7-11.
Branch Week is an annual event that allows cadets to speak with branch representatives to help them learn which military profession suits them best. With that, branch representatives took all the necessary steps to prepare their displays and answer any questions cadets had.
During their tenure at West Point, the cadets learn everything they can about what branches the Army offers and then confirm which branch they prefer during their senior year, 1st Lt. Mackenzie Clancy, an Army officer out of the Field Artillery Proponent Office, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, explained.
“The cadets’ preference which branch they’d prefer out of the 17 branches to choose from and then we at Field Artillery are going to preference the cadets we want to pick under the categories, ‘very fit for FA,’ ‘fit for FA,’ and ‘not fit for FA,”’ Clancy said. “So, if they are our most preferred cadet, and they rank us one or two out of their top five branch choices, then that’s a very good match.”
Clancy added FA gives their recommendations for which cadets are their best fit and then the U.S. Army Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis fills empty branch slots with the most qualified officers commissioning out of West Point and the Reserves Officers Training Corps.
Officers and Soldiers from the armored warfare combat arms branch were thrilled to educate cadets on the intricacies of tank warfare and all the tasks that come with representing the armor branch.
“We have briefing boards near our displays and then we also have a website, too,” Capt. Marah Scarano, an Army officer from the Office of the Chief of Armor, Fort Benning, Georgia, said. “We also have noncommissioned officers here to explain to cadets the technical aspects of being an armorer and the nuance that goes into armor vehicle design.”
Class of 2025 Cadet John MacUne was in awe of the tank the armor representatives displayed and was excited to learn as much as he could about the branch, he said.
“The armor branch seems like an awesome branch to get into and staring at this tank fills me with a sense of adventure,” MacUne said. “Right now, it’s between infantry and armor, although I would feel a lot more secure on the battlefield inside of a tank rather than patrolling on foot.”
Class of 2024 Cadets Shari-Lee Bennett and Class of 2023 Cadet Hannah Lamb emphasized their passionate desire to one day branch aviation with the hope of helping as many people as they can.
“I want to learn how to maneuver an aircraft and I want to develop my attention to detail through the aviation profession,” Bennett said. “I feel that if a job isn’t going to heighten my situational awareness, why bother with the job. Also, I feel choosing aviation will open many doors to many opportunities as an Army officer and as a civilian. There are flight paramedics and flight nurses on the civilian side and I feel starting in the Army is the best step for me.”
Lamb learned how to fly a fixed-winged airplane at the academy and has flown over 130 hours as a West Point Flight Team member. Since becoming part of the Corps of Cadets in 2019, Lamb’s priority has been to, eventually, branch aviation, she said.
“I feel like West Point has given me all the tools to learn what I can about aviation,” Lamb said. “I learned about my passion for aviation at West Point through awesome mentors and great friends and as for my parents, they are proud of my decision to branch aviation, albeit they are a bit nervous.”
As Branch Week continues, branch representatives like Clancy and Scarano hope that cadets get the best education on the branch of their choice, whether they are seniors, or plebes who are undecided.