The term ROTC is known by name around campus and perhaps a few students could locate the Daniel H. Wells building on a map, but beyond a knowledge of who and where, the program at BYU isn’t as well-known as it could be.
The ROTC, or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is a college-based program meant to train and prepare commissioned officers of the U.S. Armed Forces.
At BYU there are 108 students enrolled in the army ROTC program, which isn’t a major. Students wanting to take part in ROTC choose to enroll in the classes, on top of what they normally study.
To better prepare participants looking for a future in the Armed Forces, BYU’s ROTC program participates in a number of events and training opportunities each year that push cadets to their limits.
Recently, during conference weekend, cadets marched with their gear, participated in field exercises and a variety of others, labeled FTX or Field Training Exercises.
Additionally, many at the Y may be surprised to learn how successful the program is. BYU belongs to the largest army ROTC battalion in this region of the United States, which comprises five states and 30 battalions, each battalion comsisting of multiple schools.
BYU has won the Ranger Challenge competition 26 times in the past 28 years, scored higher than any ROTC program in the history of the military academy West Point, beat the British Special Forces in the same competition and placed sixth this year in National Army Marksmanship.
With a pretty impressive resume, it can be difficult to understand why so little is known about the program.
Those involved see it not only as a means of preparation for the military but a means of building leadership.
“The ROTC gives you a lot of opportunities to lead, which helps a lot in learning how to deal with others and how to motivate them,” said Alicia Betancourt-Perez, a sophomore studying athletic training. “It’s just a good environment overall to develop your leadership.”
On top of leadership skills, students are also taught important lessons and develop other qualities that carry over into many aspects of their lives.
“It makes you more attentive to detail; it makes you more forthright and assertive in getting what you need to get done,” said Eric Johnson, a senior from Ohio studying political science. “In my classes, when there is group work, if someone doesn’t take the lead in a few seconds, then I usually jump in because to make an organization run and to get a really good product you realize you have to have leadership and efficient organization. I use the skills I learned in ROTC in the classroom and in my work all the time.”
Although the program is life changing and lots of fun, it comes with its share of difficulties and challenges.
“You have to get along with a different array of people for one, and then as well there is a lot of physical stuff you need to get over,” said Jaxson Myers, a freshman from Arkansas studying geospatial intelligence.
Ever year BYU’s battalion, which includes BYU, Utah Valley University, Dixie State and Southern Utah University, commissions 40 cadets.
Those wishing for more information can check out BYU’s army ROTC website at army.byu.edu.