By: Katie McGuire & Emily Mulcahey
Excitement was in the air in the Olive Theater Thursday night as the ROTC Cadet Command Commanding General welcomed the first regiment of cadets to the Cadet Leader Course (CLC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Major General Peggy Combs met with the more than 600 cadets, and enthusiastically explained the Army’s goals and expectations as they undergo their summer training in order to become Second Lieutenants. She stressed that the cadets will learn to rely on teamwork as well as personal development to meet these standards.
“We are going to squeeze every bit of leadership development as we can into the next 29 days,” Combs said. She later noted that, “here at Fort Knox, Kentucky, we make gold bars (the insignia of a Second Lieutenant).”
For the majority of the audience, this is the end of the beginning: The final chapter in their leader development. Eighty percent of the Army’s commissioned officers come from ROTC, so the outcome of the cadet training this summer will shape the United States Army for years to come, and the cadre are fully aware.
“What you put into it is what you, and we, get out of it,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Kimbrough, the Regimental Tactical Officer, as he addressed the cadets at the in-briefing. Kimbrough went on to explain the huge emphasis of leadership development this year.
Last year the CLC, formally known as Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), focused more on grading the cadets and comparing them to the cadre’s expectation rather than their individual development as a leader in the Army.
“We are focused on your development, that’s the only reason we are here,” Kimbrough said.
After listening to Kimbrough the cadets then stood at attention as they welcomed Combs to the theater.
The General emphasized the significance of CST this year, saying that the cadets (except those dozen-or-so college graduates who are here to accomplish their last milestone prior to commissioning) will be commissioned next in the 100th anniversary of the ROTC program. As Combs explained, the United States Army makes up one percent of the U.S., and their goal is to fight for the other 99 percent. Although this is a small percent, each cadet is a part of a bigger picture: the Army.
As a gesture of expressing the power of the Army team, Combs had each cadet turn and face the man or woman behind them. They then shook each other’s hands and told each other how proud they were of each other that they are here. She wanted to be sure each individual knew how proud she was, and how important one another are to each other in this training process.
“If I were your own mother, I couldn’t be more proud.”
The General finished with one final and prominent thought, “your own weapon system is your mind, and you use that through the other most important part of you—your heart. How do you inspire it?”
The cadets filed out to get their first night of rest with that heavy question on their minds, and ready to report for their first day of training in the morning.