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ROTC Culture how to Respond to it
Old 05-03-2018, 18:58   #1
andreas
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ROTC Culture how to Respond to it

To preface this, I have done my research in regards to the Mustang Officer vs the ROTC/USMA officer and have come up empty handed... If I have made a mistake and missed any posts that better encompass this than please point me in the right direction and dismiss my post. ALSO I do not mean to talk about myself too much but I am doing so in attempt to let the potential readers see the situation from my perspective.

I have always had my eyes set on the army as a career, ever since hearing stories from my grandfather about his time as a Green Beret in Vietnam. If you refer to my bio It will tell you everything about why I had to wait so long (don't want to write a whole book in this thread). Long story short, I ended up in ROTC trying to get in the Army by any means necessary.

Fast forward a year and a half from the detour I had to take with enlisting, I have made every logical, introspective leap and bound in attempt to quell my gut feeling that the enlisted route is my calling and what I was born to do (and recently have been a couple weeks away from getting my 2 year ROTC scholarship and contracting), telling myself better pay and a safer situation were good for the long run, even though down deep I have known that's not who I am. If it was, I wouldn't be trying to join the army. However a meeting this week blew the lid off of my entire situation.


I received negative counseling fro the first time this week, and was told that if I "was an enlisted man, this conversation would have meant a promotion." But since this was ROTC and I was trying to be a 2nd Lieutenant, I was "all fucked up". I have been (apparently incorrectly) viewing my success as (1) maintaining a positive incline in regards to PT (went from a 1530 2 mile to a 12 flat), (2) making sure I take care of my subordinates as a TL and an SL and making sure they know I would do anything for them, (3) outperforming and outmaneuvering anyone and everyone during field training exercises (platoon ops), and last but not least (4) keeping my head down and not caring what the other dramatic Cadets think of me personally... and I have been accomplishing all of those goals. All this was acknowledged and dismissed, stating that the lack of involvement among my peers and extracurricular activities in regards to the program were enough to warrant a serious sit down meeting.

On top of all of this, while I was walking out of the room, I was informed by a secretary that my Shoulder waiver (that I had been working toward for almost 3 years) had finally arrived and I don't have to worry about getting the workaround from big army anymore. All of this falling in my lap at the same time forced me to reevaluate what I was doing and the culture I was perpetuating.

-I am apart of a program where a squared away and tactically sound Cadet with great leadership among his direct peers can get negative counseling for acting "too enlisted", while at the same time (last weekend) another Cadet who rolled over during a simulated firefight the first night in the field, got into the fetal position and whimpered, is STILL sitting atop the OML in regards to points
-After reading the book Starship troopers this quarter, to me people being able to hop into a combat unit with no combat experience seems out of the ordinary and forced, which results in what I've heard from enlisted friends about the stigma attached with fresh LTs nowadays
-Someday I am going to be commissioned with these kids and grouped into the same stigmatized group, and ill tell you what I wouldn't want these people leading me into the weight room, let alone a react to contact

If I haven't said this already, this is an awesome program, it just seems the Cadre have their hands tied behind their back. If what they want is individuals who know how to win friendships, learn how to accumulate politic capital with their peers, and know nothing but the basic text book knowledge and not much else, they're right on track. No grit involved whatsoever. That's not me, I want to be a different breed of officer and I am worried that the ROTC route wont afford me the opportunity to trial by fire or any other tried and true methods of weeding people out.

Ultimately what I am here for is to hear what you professionals have to say about "Mustang Officers" (officers with prior enlisted time), and the decision I have to make this next month as to whether or not I want to drop ROTC and pursue that route, or go with the flow of ROTC. I want to be the best and lead among the best and as of right now, giving the ROTC scholarship a middle finger and enlisting after I get my degree with hopes of commissioning later on is looking like the only option I can morally let myself do. As an individual who wants to make sure I am the best Soldier first and foremost, I am seeking guidance before I make my final decision next month.

(1) are mustang officers truly looked at as differently as I hear they are, and is their relationships with the Team that much different?

(2) In the SF community, have you encountered many prior enlisted officers, and what is your analysis of them versus the fresh ones from service academies or ROTC?

(3) Do you think the ROTC program is actually producing individuals that can jump into big time roles, or is the millennial mindset and the lax "all-inclusive" standards destining cadets to be perceived as soft compared to whatever it was like "back in the day.

(4) If I do want to end up enlisting post college, would commissioning AFTER doing SF ODA time put me in a better position to remain in SF after commissioning, or is that all up to the needs of the Army?

(5) Should I be worried about going the ROTC route in regards to my ability to perform and lead the best, or is this just a irrational fear that I conjured up myself

Sorry for the essay... any information will help
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Old 05-04-2018, 01:03   #2
Pete
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Usually the long deep chat between an officer and enlisted soldier in SF was after you got to know each other a bit - and were chasing shade around a rock in the middle of bum fuck nowhere on some long duration recon mission.

Officers who make it to a team have been in the Army a while and proved themselves in order to be selected.

With all that said a few folks, officers and enlisted, just have personalities that clash with team life.
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Old 05-04-2018, 20:07   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(1) are mustang officers truly looked at as differently as I hear they are, and is their relationships with the Team that much different?

(2) In the SF community, have you encountered many prior enlisted officers, and what is your analysis of them versus the fresh ones from service academies or ROTC?

(3) Do you think the ROTC program is actually producing individuals that can jump into big time roles, or is the millennial mindset and the lax "all-inclusive" standards destining cadets to be perceived as soft compared to whatever it was like "back in the day.

(4) If I do want to end up enlisting post college, would commissioning AFTER doing SF ODA time put me in a better position to remain in SF after commissioning, or is that all up to the needs of the Army?

(5) Should I be worried about going the ROTC route in regards to my ability to perform and lead the best, or is this just a irrational fear that I conjured up myself

Sorry for the essay... any information will help
I can answer most of these from a Q-course Cadre perspective only, I have observed Officers from every commissioning source. I would not judge any one of them to be better then any other IMO.

The person and leadership ability that can be learned by each Officer is unique.

(1) I would not say SF tolerates Mustangs if I am interpreting your definition of doing what ever you want and going against the grain ? Contrary to what you may think we have rules even in SF and we follow them even more so for Officers because that is where the buck stops.

Your relationship with the team is dependent on your relationship with your Team SGT. good,bad or indifferent your destiny is intertwined with his, you wont get very far without cooperation and knowing your role and your job.

(2) Going enlisted will not give you a leg up you will still be at the same lvl of knowledge as the other Officers.

(3) We are still producing Officers that meet the standards. same same as back in the day and letting the ones that don't make the cut move along to different paths.

(4) No, you still would have to go back thru the Q-course doing something you have never done as a enlisted soldier.

(5) Your Human (irrational fear that you conjured up yourself)
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Last edited by 7624U; 05-04-2018 at 20:29.
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Old 05-15-2018, 20:17   #4
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I have nothing to add, but from one EWU grad to fellow Eastern student, I wish you good luck in your future military career.
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Old 05-15-2018, 21:07   #5
Basenshukai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(1) are mustang officers truly looked at as differently as I hear they are, and is their relationships with the Team that much different?
From my experience, prior service officers have an advantage over their peers somewhere between 2LT and the first year as a Captain. After that, it pretty much levels out. I've seen really exceptional prior service officers, and pretty crappy ones.

When I was in the Q Course, two of our four prior service SF officers (previously in SF as enlisted) were kicked out of the course on recommendation of the SF NCO cadre. One exhibited poor judgement and the other had an integrity issue. There is no guarantee that a prior service SF officer will be any better nor any worse than one who arrived to a team as an officer from any other source. Lastly, an SF team already has 10 highly trained NCOs (and an experienced warrant officer). They are not looking for an 11th NCO - they need a competent officer who knows his job. They will judge you on that, not on your past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(2) In the SF community, have you encountered many prior enlisted officers, and what is your analysis of them versus the fresh ones from service academies or ROTC?
See my answer, above.


Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(3) Do you think the ROTC program is actually producing individuals that can jump into big time roles, or is the millennial mindset and the lax "all-inclusive" standards destining cadets to be perceived as soft compared to whatever it was like "back in the day.
The "millennial mindset" - as you call it - is impacting the entire force. ROTC has its own challenges. An ROTC assignment is not seen as "career enhancing" for an officer and most quality officers avoid this type of duty at all costs. Thus, ROTC is not always getting the best role models either. When I was in SF, I remember part of me wanted to "give back" by applying for ROTC duty as an instructor, but having to choose between that and getting graduate school out of the way and right into group. I ended up commanding two SF companies because of that decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(4) If I do want to end up enlisting post college, would commissioning AFTER doing SF ODA time put me in a better position to remain in SF after commissioning, or is that all up to the needs of the Army?
You'd still need to go to SFAS, complete the Q Course, and re-join SF if you make it. SFAS assesses officers via a different criteria and the Q Course trains you to master a different specialty than that of the enlisted personnel. There was a period of time when you would not have had to repeat SFAS, just the rest of the Q Course. I think this was up until around 2002 or 2003. Then, they decided that you'd have to re-assess as an officer via SFAS. It's been a while since then, so unless this has changed again, I think it is a do-over for you if an SF enlisted-turned-officer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas View Post
(5) Should I be worried about going the ROTC route in regards to my ability to perform and lead the best, or is this just a irrational fear that I conjured up myself?
I'd say that it is an unfounded concern on your part, rather than an irrational fear.

You must simply follow your calling - officer or enlisted. That being said, I had quite a few fellas on my SFODA who went to college, got their degree, and stayed SF NCOs and went to post-graduate school during their career.
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Last edited by Basenshukai; 05-15-2018 at 21:09.
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Old 05-17-2018, 14:11   #6
Sinister
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Being a mustang has nothing to do with maturity, technical, or tactical competence.

I was an NCO. I was also commissioned through the ROTC Simultaneous Membership Program.

I commanded three ODAs, an SF company, and two battalions -- and loved it. I was an SF Officer for 26 years (of 31).

An officer's commissioning source seems to have little to do with whether or not he's capable. Some of the finest general officers I've worked for had degrees that had nothing to do with the profession of arms.

I've led men who had masters' degrees but stayed enlisted. I ran into a federal judge who was happy as a Guard SF SFC.

I avoided AC/RC and ROTC but got snagged supporting Recruiting -- which wasn't a bad thing. I teach ROTC at a Senior Military College.

Do what you'll be successful and happy doing -- but don't whine, "Woe is me" when your enlistment is up or it's time to retire. You rope it, you ride it.

Grow a pair. Make up your own mind. There is no perfect place in SF either, let alone the Army or ROTC.

Last edited by Sinister; 05-17-2018 at 14:22.
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Old 05-19-2018, 15:07   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinister View Post
Being a mustang has nothing to do with maturity, technical, or tactical competence.

I was an NCO. I was also commissioned through the ROTC Simultaneous Membership Program.

I commanded three ODAs, an SF company, and two battalions -- and loved it. I was an SF Officer for 26 years (of 31).

An officer's commissioning source seems to have little to do with whether or not he's capable. Some of the finest general officers I've worked for had degrees that had nothing to do with the profession of arms.

I've led men who had masters' degrees but stayed enlisted. I ran into a federal judge who was happy as a Guard SF SFC.

I avoided AC/RC and ROTC but got snagged supporting Recruiting -- which wasn't a bad thing. I teach ROTC at a Senior Military College.

Do what you'll be successful and happy doing -- but don't whine, "Woe is me" when your enlistment is up or it's time to retire. You rope it, you ride it.

Grow a pair. Make up your own mind. There is no perfect place in SF either, let alone the Army or ROTC.
"You rope it, you ride it".

Sir, I will be using this quote quite a bit where I work. I may even have some t-shirts made with that phrase printed thereon. Giving proper credit to the original source, of course.
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