Some ROTC programs getting cut, others see growth - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Some ROTC programs getting cut, others see growth

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Reserve Officers' Training Corps -- or ROTC  --provides opportunities for young men and women to one day become a military officer.

Next year, the Army is set to close 13 ROTC programs. Eight are in the south, including one at the University of North Alabama.

The Army maintains these closures are necessary to make more efficient use of resources available. Translated: the programs closing aren't graduating enough cadets.

"College students as a whole are looking for a place to plug in. And ROTC is a great place to plug in," says cadet Trent Little.

Little is also a senior finance major at Samford University. He comes from a military background and wants to give back to his country. He joined Samford's ROTC program for that 'opportunity.'

"It's an opportunity in college to really grow. This has been a huge advocate for growth in my life," says Little.

ROTC cadets, like Little spend time in the classroom learning history and basics of military life.
There's also the training, and physical conditioning.

"All those things are used to build the cadet into an officer one day," Little explains.

For him, the ROTC offers something that can't be taught in a classroom.

"I think we offer those deep relationships, that accountability, that support here at Detachment 12. And that is something that keeps cadets here," says Little.

Lieutenant Colonel Travis Dixon, commanding officer for Samford's ROTC, says the detachment has its largest number of cadets in the last five years.

"It's like an internship," Dixon explains. "If you stick with it you can go into the Air Force but you can drop us at any time. And that's kind of the approach I've been giving for recruiting."

ROTC students are able to get financial assistance.

While Lt. Col. Dixon's  detachment has enjoyed growth, he understands the challenge the military faces having to do more with less.

"Unfortunately it just doesn't make sense to keep some detachments open if we are over producing the number of officers that Congress will allow us to produce," says Dixon.

At UAB, Army ROTC commander Lt. Col. Chris Carter credits the help of the university with keeping the program strong.

"The institutions themselves really facilitate the Army to develop the leadership that we seek."

100 students participate in UAB's ROTC. Carter points to the success rate of the upper classmen.

"This year alone, we expect 12 to 15 of our cadets to go overseas on some type of training mission," says Carter.

For Carter, the mission is simple.

"The cadets are great and our goal is to make them the best possible leaders that we can and to be ready to serve our country."

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