A competition tradition: ROTC sends leaders

Sarah Haas

A 33-day-long assessment of leadership skills, technical knowledge and performance in land navigation exercises sounds like something to fear.

But not for the ISU ROTC program, which will send 21 juniors to compete in the Army’s Leadership Development and Assessment Course in Fort Lewis, Wash., this summer.

Josh Tyrrell, senior in English, said all members of the program must participate in the course between their junior and senior years at Iowa State.

Tyrrell participated in the assessment last summer and has since used his knowledge and experiences to help assist the current juniors in their quests to receive high scores.

“Cadets from all over the country go, and they are assessed in the proficiency of leadership that the cadet puts forth. It’s a big grading thing to see how you stack up against the standards,” Tyrrell said.

Six evaluations in different areas are combined to give each cadet an overall score.

Tyrrell said Iowa State has proved its place nationally as an exceptional ROTC program through its showings at the course over the past four years.

“We’re putting so many more people out there and we’re matching that quantity of cadets with quality,” he said. “In the last four years, our program has really started to take off.”

Matt Hosford, junior in civil engineering, is well aware of the program’s reputation. He said he views the assessment as the culmination of the past three years of his training with the ROTC.

“You start preparing as a freshman, when you learn the basics, and more advanced knowledge as a sophomore,” Hosford said. “But then, as a junior, you start applying everything you know and you start teaching those things, and I think it really solidifies your knowledge.”

Kirk Olson, junior in computer engineering, said he feels prepared for the assessment because he is confident in both his training and instruction.

“I’m not nervous at all,” Olson said. “Every year, we do consistently better than everyone else. I know going into the assessment that I won’t have to be the guy at the bottom end of the pole – I’ll be up at the top.”

Olson said 4,700 cadets from around the nation will gather to showcase their leadership abilities. In the garrison, cadets will be graded through physical fitness and leadership tests.

Through the stress, Olson said the tightly knit friendships ISU cadets forged over their three years of training, should give them an edge.