What is Air Force ROTC?
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is a program that combines college study with military leadership, discipline, and training to produce officers for the United States Air Force. AFROTC is hosted on civilian college campuses and trains college students to become successful leaders for the future. Upon graduation with at least a bachelor's degree, students are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Active Duty Air Force. A commission is an appointment to a military office by the President of the United States.
How Does the Air Force ROTC Program Work?
Normally, AFROTC is a four-year program divided into two portions, the General Military Course (GMC) and the Professional Officer Course (POC). Students, referred to as cadets, enroll in the GMC for their freshman and the General sophomore year. The GMC involves a one-credit course each semester, and a two hour Leadership Laboratory (LLAB). Freshman year the curriculum covers the basics of military customs and courtesies, introduces the Air Force mission and organization, military correspondence styles, and drill and marching. The sophomore curriculum focuses on the history of Air Power, starting with the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, and traces the evolution and revolution of aircraft throughout WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and current operations in the Balkans, Iraq, and wherever the mission might take us.
LLAB is a hands-on leadership training program. GMC cadets are trained and prepared for Field Training by the POC. The POC must plan an execute 13 labs in which the GMC are instructed in skills they will need to successfully complete Field Training and for a thriving military career.
After successful completion of the GMC, students are scheduled to attend Field Training during the summer between the sophomore and junior year. Field Training is an intense, 4-week, hands on leadership challenge. Cadets will be evaluated on their mastery of military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremonies, and on their leadership ability. Cadets are exposed to a variety of challenges to force them to work as a team, learn to critically evaluate situations, and perform under stress. While no cadet will tell you it's fun, Field Training is often a life changing experience that builds self-confidence and hones leadership skills.
Following Field Training, cadets are then sworn in to the POC. Upon entering the POC, cadets are enlisted in the inactive reserves while they complete their final two years of college. POC cadets are placed in leadership positions and are charged with running the cadet wing. The cadet wing is modeled after the organizational structure of the active duty Air Force. POC members are responsible for planning and executing LLAB, as well as other extra-curricular activities like formal dinners and awards ceremonies. POC members are given cadet rank, and fellow cadets must award proper respect, via customs and courtesies, afforded that rank. The POC course is designed to give hands-on leadership experience to cadets, preparing them for service after graduation. The junior curriculum focuses on leadership and management styles. Cadets are challenged not only in classroom examples of management, but their jobs in the cadet wing require them to put their learning into practice. The senior curriculum focuses again on leadership, but also introduces concepts regarding military law, the law of armed conflict, as well as preparing them for entrance into the Active Duty Air Force.
Based on the needs of the Air Force, students are often allowed and encouraged to enroll as late as the fall of their junior year. Curriculum from the GMC is covered during an extended Field Training in the summer after their junior year.
Air Force ROTC presents many unique opportunities for its' cadets. On weekends in the fall and spring, cadets can receive up to 8 hours of no-cost flight instruction through the Civil Air Patrol at the Potsdam Airport. In addition, every spring break the cadet corps has the opportunity to visit an active Air Force Base, and see first hand how the Air Force works. These trips often include incentive flights on a variety of military aircraft. Cadets can also compete for summer-time opportunities to earn glider wings, parachute wings (free-fall and airborne) and travel to overseas bases at no cost.