Despite mission differences, Air Force, Army ROTC share common goals

Kathryn Monsewicz

College students have a lot of decisions to make, but imagine joining the military while also taking college courses. Opinionated.

Kent State offers two Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs on campus, the Air Force ROTC and the Army ROTC, which share similarities and differences.

The purpose of AFROTC is to put aircraft and people in the air to support this country’s mission, said Air Force Lt. Col. Erik Fredmonsky.

The Army has its own aviation, cyber and water components for those serving.

Army Lt. Col. Dave Simms said the purpose of the Army is to fight and win wars.

“We have to be ready to win those wars for the nation.” Attribution

Why Kent?

Kent State offers programs for AFROTC cadets or those who wish to pursue a career in flight. With Andrew Paton field not far from campus, cadets can go to the university’s airport for classes and then join the Air Force with knowledge from aeronautical program, Fredmonsky said. 

The Kent State University Aeronautics enjoys a reputation for excellence in the field of aviation education, producing highly competent professionals to work in aviation-related fields, according to the Kent State University Aeronautics Facebook page

Simms said aside from Kent, Ohio, is an opportunistic state for the 40 to 50 percent of Army ROTC cadets who intend to join the Ohio Army National Guard. Because Ohio is the seventh most populous state, the Ohio Army National Guard is proportionate to that population. Source?

Why do students join?

“A lot of people come to us because they want to fly,” Fredmonsky said.

However, the majority of jobs in the Air Force are not flying. According to who or what?

Simms said he believes cadets join the Army ROTC because the Army gives them an opportunity to lead. They continue Army ROTC because they love the program.

“You love what you are doing and you see opportunity for growth,” Simms said. You see opportunity for a career. These opportunities extend to the Army at large, whether a cadet becomes a reservist, joins the Army National Guard or becomes active duty.

Are there obstacles to joining?

Cadets must undergo a medical screening before joining. A person who has flown as a civilian comes to the Air Force expecting to be a pilot, but they may not pass the medical screening. Eyesight is a common obstacle.

Fredmonsky said recruited individuals may not meet requirements the Air Force has for vision, so some are ineligible to become pilots.

Not-so-perfect eyesight will not prevent a person from landing a job in the Air Force. Other jobs include being a combat systems officer, a remotely piloted aircraft pilot or an air battle manager.

Obstacles to joining the Army ROTC typically emerge junior and senior year. Freshman and sophomore classes are open to any student at the university.

For the junior and senior-level classes, a cadet is essentially joining the Army at that point, Simms said.

The requirements for joining Army ROTC start with enrollment at the university.

“If you are not meeting your general university requirements and progressing toward your degree, you are not going to be successful here,” Simms said.

For students who join late in their academic career, Army ROTC offers a summer training camp to catch cadets up on skills and tasks learned in freshman and sophomore years. Returning cadets can enter junior level courses.

What does the course schedule look like?

Freshmen who join AFROTC will take one credit hour of an academic course and one credit of Leadership Laboratory. Juniors and seniors are required to take three credits of academics and, again, one credit hour of Leadership Laboratory.

The academic portion of the required credits are similar to other courses a college student would take, but with an Air Force focus. Topics include Air Force customs and courtesies, the rank system and history about the Air Force during World War I and II eras.

Exams take place during the academic portion of the requirement.

Similar to AFROTC, the Army ROTC has an academic portion and a Leadership Laboratory course. Academic requirements include officership, leadership, basic skills or warrior tasks and battle drills. Students must maintain military science grades at a 2.5 GPA or above.

Army ROTC also relies on mentorship from upperclassmen.

Army ROTC offers further schooling to cadets outside of Kent State including airborne school, air assault school and mountain warfare training.

What is the training like?

Fredmonsky said field training in AFROTC is what some call officer bootcamp, which challenges a cadet’s leadership abilities, allows for managing groups of people with different personalities, learning the strengths of each person and maximizing output of work.

To be a part of field training, AFROTC cadets compete for an empty slot, Fredmonsky said. Field training takes place the summer between sophomore and junior year, where cadets travel to Alabama for four weeks.

Cadets undergo physical training tests, practice runs and marches, but also mental tests, like strategizing the completion of tasks and working with other cadets in high-stress situations.

In Army ROTC, this training, called Advanced Camp, happens between junior and senior year. Advanced Camp is a 45-day training experience in Kentucky where cadets are evaluated on their knowledge, leadership capabilities and leadership potential, Simms said.

Both ROTC programs focus on leadership.

Advanced Camp can be challenging to cadets. They go through an extremely stressful environment guiding peers, all while under constant pressure.

“A lot of your future in the Army relies on your performance at Advanced Camp,” Simms said.

Above: the number of AFROTC and Army ROTC cadets who attended either Field Training or Advanced Camp in 2017, as well as the number of cadets who passed. Courtesy of Air Force Lt. Col. Erik Fredmonsky and Army Lt. Col. Dave Simms. Send this to me, it’s unreadable. 

 Am I ready to sign a contract?

Contracting to join the Air Force can happen anytime. It’s not cadets’ option to contract because the decision depends on what jobs are available in the Air Force. Once a cadet is contracted, they receive a monthly stipend and are obligated to serve a certain amount of time as active duty personnel.

Contracting to join the Army happens before Advanced Camp. A cadet will typically contract into the U.S. Army at the beginning of his or her junior year.

While Air Force cadets receive commission as active duty personnel, Army cadets are commissioned as active duty, reservists or Army National Guard.

Much of joining either ROTC program involves the relationships built throughout.

“Here, in this office, we have a group of phenomenal instructors, so things are running really well,” Fredmonsky said. “It has a lot to do with the people. If you have good people, that makes a big difference.”

“I’m here for my cadets,” Simms said. “I’m here to make sure they are successful in the Army, in school and in life. That’s how the Army operates. It’s a people business. We take care of our people.”

Kathryn Monsewicz is the military and veterans reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

I think the next step to push this article is to find about two more students. I want to hear from an alumni in this program or a student who is going through this. Maybe it’s a freshman who is just starting either program and what they are looking forward to or why they started in the program. Also, send me the graphic because it will not display properly, hard to read, even for web. There are a couple sentences at the beginning that need attribution. Some of them seem self explanatory but I don’t want to assume who said it. Pay attention to opinions. The lede needs work. It’s not bringing me into the article at all. It’s a boring one and makes the whole story uninteresting. Lastly, this could improve tremendously with a couple photos of training and them in class.