The Four Pillars: Military
On an autumn morning in 1066, William of Normandy tried desperately to break a line of Saxon warriors at the top of a shallow hill. Against the storm of blades, the Normans quickly fled across the battlefield as the British defenders pursued them—if the battle continued like this, William might not have lived to return to France. And then just in time, the earth rumbled from the troop of Norman knights who crashed into the side of the British formation.
The Norman knights were so effective in battle that they set the standard for European militaries for the next five centuries. And just the act of becoming a knight meant that a squire had spent years of grueling training while in the service of a mentor who ensured that he mastered the chivalric arts.
With these visions, cadets who aspire to become officers in the U.S. Army embark on a modern-day training regimen. Since 1842, The Citadel has produced military officers, and the college’s Army department has now become the Army’s largest source for officers after the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Army Officer Candidate School. It has also won the MacArthur Award for being the best ROTC battalion in the Eastern region, eclipsing other military colleges in the country.
Col. Cardon Crawford, the Army department head, refuses to refer to the college’s program as Army ROTC.
“It’s not your mom and dad’s ROTC,” he said.
Crawford insists instead that it be called “the Army department at The Citadel” because changes have made the program vastly different from what it once was.
In 2006 the Army department issued 126 contracts, the most it has issued in 20 years. In 2007, 72 new lieutenants were commissioned—the most since 1989—and the Army department sent more than 90 cadets to Leadership Development Advance Camp—more than any other college in the nation.
Crawford believes that every cadet has the potential to be a leader, so the Army department is also contracting athletes to join in the defense of the country. In 2007, eight football players, including the quarterback and team captain, received contracts as did two baseball players and one female soccer player.
Why are so many cadets joining the Army?
Crawford believes that cadets have the drive, discipline and inner strength to succeed as soldiers. “The Citadel is a national treasury for the Army because of the type of individual who comes here,” he said. “And it will continue to be the main feeder for the Army as long as The Citadel exists.”
But the Army department did not win the MacArthur Award recognizing top Army ROTC units nationwide just for its size. The department offers the training for future second lieutenants that is second to none. The Army curriculum for contracted cadets involves weekly training blocks in Army lab on Thursdays, physical training three days per week and field training exercises for one weekend each month. During these instruction times, cadets practice rifle marksmanship, squad and platoon level infantry tactics, individual movements and land navigation. They also learn the art of leadership by studying the Army’s warrior ethos, commanding squads and companies in mock combat actions, and writing and presenting operations orders. Also, the Army department provides additional training in rappelling, constructing and using a rope bridge, navigating obstacle courses and mastering water survival. All of the training that cadets receive at The Citadel culminates with Leadership Development Advance Camp (also known as Warrior Forge) during the summer of their junior year. There, they are tested on everything that they have learned and are then ranked on a National Order of Merit list. This list is used to determine which cadets receive their first choices of career fields in the Army.
The Army department has recently changed its approach to training cadets by establishing a graduated curriculum that consists of three phases—red, white and blue. The red phase stresses intensive focus on the most basic elements of being an officer. Cadets may graduate into the white phase after passing exams on tactics, land navigation, troop leading procedures and leadership development. The white and blue phases are less regimented and delve into the deeper details of combat operations. This new training structure has two effects—it allows senior cadets to practice the skills they will use as second lieutenants, and it ensures more effective training for junior cadets because there are fewer trainees.
Crawford also knows that as circumstances and enemies change, so must the fundamental nature of military training. Cadets are now learning how to deal with improvised explosive devices and urban operations, which are some of the new tactical situations soldiers face in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Army department will continue to change and adjust its training to adequately prepare officers adequately to fight modern wars using cutting-edge strategy.
Senior cadets who have completed Warrior Forge are responsible for training the juniors, sophomores and knobs under the supervision of the Army cadre, which is composed of active duty officers and senior noncommissioned officers. All of the members of the cadre are highly accomplished soldiers who were specially selected to teach at The Citadel; most have been in combat.
Senior cadets receive their commissions the day before graduation in a ceremony in Summerall Chapel that echoes the Middle Ages. Beneath the high gothic vaults and in the glow of azure light that filters through the stained-glass windows, the Army cadre bestows the rank of second lieutenant on the graduating seniors, as a lord would have dubbed a new knight. After they complete their officer basic courses, these lieutenants may also lead similar glorious charges into the pages of history.
Since this article was written, Crawford has been named The Citadel director of government and legislative affairs.
Story by Cadet Andrew Harris, '08. Reprinted from "The Citadel" magazine with permission.