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NEWS | April 26, 2016

UNC at Charlotte reflects on history and future of ROTC

By Story by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training)

The Army’s Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or ROTC, as we know it was officially established by President Woodrow Wilson with the signing of the National Defense Act of 1916.

Colleges and universities had offered military training as part of their individual curriculum dating back to as early as 1819, however, the signing of this bill brought the training under one federally controlled roof.

Today ROTC programs provide close to 70 percent of newly commissioned officers in the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard from college campuses all across the country

This spring as those same programs celebrate 100 years of rich history, Cadets from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte took to the classroom on April 23 to do what Lt. Col. Jared Sloan, UNCC Professor of Military Science, called “remembering where we came from.”

Cadets were given a brief synopsis of the ROTC program as a whole and were then afforded the opportunity to ask questions in a Q&A session.

“The Army’s ROTC program is the bulk officer producing program so it’s integral to the way the Army builds strength and teaches its officers. That said, it’s important for us here today to take a step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going as a program,” he said.

Sloan, now in his second year with the UNCC program, is a West Point graduate. Having been given his first introduction to ROTC through his current assignment, he says he’s worked hard to dwindle his footprint opening up more time with his cadets.

“At West Point we had what they called ‘contact’ time. You were exposed to the military 24-7. Here we didn’t have that and one of the reasons was we were spread out too far,” he said. “With dwindling budgets and fewer instructors, it gave me the perfect opportunity to pull everyone into teaching at one location and increase that ‘contact’ time.”

Joshua Dunn, an enlisted Infantry Soldier from 2001 until 2006, now a Cadet with UNCC’s ROTC program, said ROTC has given him the opportunity to regain the camaraderie that comes with being in the Army while he goes to school.

Dunn, who was given the task of facilitating the ROTC history brief, had limited knowledge of the program before today.

“When I was given this task, I really had no clue about the program. After diving into it and doing the research into the lineage of the program it was a real eye opener about how far we’ve come to where we are now.”

“I learn something new every day. A lot of things have changed since I got out of the Army and I see them continuing to change. This [ROTC] has helped me to stay current with those changes,” Dunn said.

Sloan reinforced that assessment.

“It [ROTC] has evolved over the first 100 years but so has warfare. Trench warfare in World War I to armored warfare in World War II to where we are now. ROTC has continued to adapt its training and education with those types of revolutions in Military affairs,” he said.

“We focus today a lot on teaching our young graduates to be critical thinkers and adaptive. We realize that I can’t possibly teach them all the answers to the questions. I don’t even know what the questions will be. What I can do is teach them to ask the right questions to let them make those critical decisions for themselves and that’s important.”

Immediately following the brief, Cadets and cadre lined up on the greenway behind the school for a 5k fun run and barbeque afterwards.