Air Force ROTC expands

Casey Watson
Staff Writer

Troy University has been given the approval to expand the two-year Air Force ROTC program into a four-year, nationally standardized program starting fall 2016.
This will allow incoming freshmen to enter into the program earlier than their predecessors, who entered their junior year.
Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. had been working to expand the program for nearly 15 years.
“The chancellor is happy, I am happy, we are all happy to join the other 143 four-year detachment programs,” said Lt. Col. Carlos Garcia of the United States Air Force, commander and professor of aerospace studies. “We are being given the opportunity to add more activities to the program and to better help students on their path to becoming an Air Force officer.”
The two-year program will still continue until fall 2018.
According to Garcia, the four-year program will better allow for student cadets to also be involved in other school and nonschool-related activities and events.
It will also allow for more time to be spent guiding the students throughout their education.
“My first question for a cadet is ‘What is your GPA?’ ” Garcia said. “If it is below a 2.5, as a junior you are disqualified from being a part of the program. Now, with the four-year program, a freshman could have a 2.0 and that would be acceptable because we would have time to work on studying and making better grades to bring up that GPA above 2.5.”
The expansion to the program will allow for students to go to officer basic training, also known as field training, between their sophomore and junior years, versus going between their junior and senior years, which is what the two-year program requires.
The program will now be able to follow the national curriculum, which will include but not be limited to military history, aeronautics, operations research and national security studies.
“Now we are just like all the other programs around the nation, and we’ll have to conform to those national standards,” Garcia said. “With our two-year program came exceptions. We are now equal to the others and can no longer be seen as different.”
Last year 3,000 eligible cadets competed nationwide for only 1,500 available slots that were selected attend field training. Two of Troy’s 15 competing cadets were accepted and completed the field training. With the expansion, the overall program is expected to triple, growing between 40 to 50 cadets per year.
“Troy has a long-standing commitment to the American military,” Hawkins said in a press release last week.
“We are extremely satisfied with the Air Force’s decision, which will open new avenues to bringing quality high school graduates into the Trojan Nation. This expansion of ROTC by the Air Force at Troy University is significant and will greatly enhance our ability to serve the needs of our military students and prospective Air Force officers.”
“Air Force ROTC at Troy has always been strongly supported, and I am thankful for that,” Garcia said. “Thanks to Chancellor Hawkins and the Air Force, Troy University will now have a more effective program.
“If you have any interest in serving in our military, the greatest military in the world, please come talk to us.  There is no guarantee, but we can give you a chance.”

 Edited 9-4-2015

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