ROTC: Facts and myths

Ryan Wilkinson

You’ve seen their drive and motivation.

You’ve seen their hustle.

Or, maybe not – because a lot of the time they are wearing camouflage.

They are the ROTC.

ROTC, which stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is a program that trains college students through courses in leadership and military science to become officers in the U.S. military. Kent State has both an Army and an Air Force ROTC program.


The Army ROTC program is the larger of the two departments. According to officials, about 100 cadets are currently enrolled in one of the eight Army ROTC classes.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Paydock, Army ROTC admissions officer, said Army ROTC is different from what most people think.

“It is not an in your face program,” Paydock said. “There is no yelling, weeping or gnashing of teeth. Your primary role is to be a student.”

In fact, not all the students in ROTC classes will even go on to serve in the U.S. military at all.

“You have not joined the army by taking an ROTC class,” Paydock said.

For the first two years, students can be enrolled in Army ROTC classes without any commitment to the military. The classes focus on the role of military in society and leadership and management skills and their application.

“Leadership is a universal skill,” Paydock said.

These initial basic officer courses can be applied as elective credits toward graduation.

Obligation to the U.S. Army is only required if a student accepts a scholarship or decides to return to the program for his or her junior year. Obligations are eight years in length, with the time being split between Active duty, Reserve duty or Individual Ready Reserve duty. Those in the Individual Ready Reserve are kept on a list to be called when necessary.

“After they complete the program, cadets are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army,” Paydock said. “There is no basic training.”

Air Force ROTC

The Air Force ROTC, or AFROTC, is similar in structure to the Army ROTC and, with 77 cadets in the program, is nearly the same size as well.

Major Paul McCroskey also said the AFROTC program is different than what most people think.

“Only about five percent of the Air Force is actually made up of pilots,” he said. “So we are not just training people to fly.”

According to AFROTC literature, “The program … will prepare you to tackle the leadership challenges awaiting the Air Force in the 21st century.”

“We want to bring in the best and brightest,” McCroskey said.

The program is structured so freshmen and sophomores can take the General Military Course with no obligation to the Air Force after graduation. After their sophomore year, cadets go through a four-week field training summer program and are then required to make a commitment to the Air Force.

“It is a four-year, active-duty commitment,” McCroskey said.

Students who accept scholarships before their field training are also required to make a commitment, McCroskey said.

After graduation, cadets are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Air Force.

Contact ROTC and Greek life reporter Ryan Wilkinson at [email protected].