CG update shares successes, challenges with former commanders
By George Whitley
U.S. Army Cadet Command
FORT MONROE, Va. — Five former commanding generals of the Army’s ROTC program returned here last week for an update on the organization they once led.
For Cadet Command’s current commander, it was an opportunity to receive feedback and ideas from his predecessors and trumpet recent successes.
“You are the brain trust of this command,” Maj. Gen. Arthur Bartell said. “I want to provide you with a view through our lens of what the command looks like today. I ask you to provide your views back through that lens to help us with the way ahead.”
The past commanders who attended the session were retired Maj. Gens. Robert Wagner, the first commander of Cadet Command from April 1986 to April 1990; Wallace Arnold, April 1990 to June 1993; James Lyle, June 1993 to June 1996; Stewart Wallace, August 1996 to August 2000; and Alan Thrasher, July 2003 to June 2005.
Retired Maj. Gen. John T. D. Casey, who led the command from August 2000 to July 2003, and Montague Winfield, June 2005 to November 2008, were unable to attend.
One major success Bartell hailed was the command exceeding in 2009 its fiscal year commissioning mission for the first time since 2005.
“We have reached a total of 4,592 commissions for this year,” said Lt. Col. Rodney Roederer, chief of the command’s Operations and Analysis Division. “That exceeds this year’s goal of 4,500 commissions and tops last year’s total by almost 300.”
In 2005, 4,178 second lieutenants were commissioned through Army ROTC. Until this year, 2005 had the highest number of commissions in any of the last 10 years, command records show.
“In meeting this mission, we now face a new challenge for the future,” Bartell said. “The eligible pool of Cadets for our ROTC program is shrinking. Today, 75 percent of the nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds are disqualified for military service because of medical, moral or dependent issues. Of the 25 percent that are qualified, it is projected that only 7 percent of them will pursue a four-year undergraduate degree.”
Another success Bartell talked about was the high quality of today’s professors of military science the command has on its 273 campuses around the country.
“We have the best officers in the history of the program working with our Cadets right now,” he said. “The downside is we have problems with keeping our officers on campus for their full tour because of their high selection rate for command and other high-level assignments.”
Cadet Command faces a number of challenges in the future, Bartell said, the most significant of which is a mission increase of 12 percent.
The number of Cadets in the senior ROTC program today has reached a five-year high at a little more than 35,000, according to command officials. Of that, more than 15,000 are on some form of scholarship. Based on the current numbers, the outlook for Army ROTC is promising, Bartell said.
Another issue facing the command, which provides thousands of scholarships annually, is the rising cost of college tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public colleges. Today, the cost for this school year averages $7,020, a 6.5 percent increase over the last school year.
Bartell also referred to difficulties in maintaining the current tempo of operations during the upcoming move of the headquarters to Fort Knox, Ky., during the next 18 months. He said the organization will overcome any hurdles and remain focused on the mission.