By Cadet Scott M. Geiger Jr,
As a an ROTC Cadet heading into my third and most important year, my actions and preparations will not only affect my next year but the rest of my career in the Army. So I did what I thought would most develop me as a leader and decided to apply to attend CULP in the early summer. Upon being accepted, I would travel with twenty-two other cadets to Benin Africa to teach English to Beninese cadets and military personnel.
We learned quickly that not everything goes according to plan when putting together detailed overseas missions. Due to sequestration and budget cuts within the government and various affiliated organizations, our team’s visas were not processed in time for our scheduled departure.
Our cadre stepped up in a big way and while working on getting us in country, scheduled various activities and training to keep us busy. They embodied the age old adage “fight the fight not the plan,” and if we were sent home they ensured we would at least leave with some new knowledge and experience.
Expecting another question and answer session from somebody too high up to relate to, my Benin team piled into the shuttle vans and headed to a briefing. We took our seats and prepared for what turned out to be a small panel of senior officers, assembled to answer any questions we as Cadets could possibly have. I can say with absolute certainty that this was the best opportunity I have had in my short military career.
This particular officer panel consisted of two full-bird colonels (one being the G3 of Cadet Command,) four lieutenant colonels (two as the acting Human Resource Command personnel for their respective branches,) three captains including our cadre, and one first lieutenant. The most amazing thing about this group of officers is that they were literally assembled the day before, taking time to talk to us on such short notice for our first insight to what the Army’s leadership had to offer.
Our discussion focused on what we as Cadets could do to develop ourselves not only as Cadets but as young officers. There was deep sense of mentorship throughout as we discussed internships, branching, changes to the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, and managing our expectations in a time where our military is drawing down and cutting back. While this was all extremely helpful, it was not the focus of this panel.
The following is a basic summary of concepts, what we learned and what we as cadets were encouraged to discover then put into practice.
We were instructed to take control of our own future, to be proactive as opposed to reactive, to anticipate the need and exceed the expectation is the best thing we can do, not only as cadets but as a military force. This all flows back into the general theme of self-development and not asking what you can get but what you can give.
We were charged with finding a mentor, to help us along the road to leadership. Nobody can do this alone and having someone there to guide and mentor is crucial in a young officer’s develop.
We were told to continue to learn, read something, anything military. To gain perspective is to grow in knowledge that can be applied later. It’s no secret that the Army is in a period of change.
We were told to learn to adapt, as the leaders of tomorrow, and not only rise to meet any challenge we face but overcome and persevere.
You have the ability to broaden yourself, or put yourself in a position of key development. The relationships that we develop must be intentional and you must give in order to receive. Give to your soldiers and they will give back. I remember what my own father told me; to serve is to lead.
This group of officers affirmed why I am here as an ROTC cadet. They exemplified the best the Army has to offer and the many opportunities that are provided.
I want to be an officer for one reason and one reason alone: the men and women you get to serve with are the best and brightest. It takes a special kind of person to answer the call to serve. It made me look forward to my own chance to lead and for the all the opportunities I will be provided as a young officer.
I’d like to thank all of those men and women for reaching out to the next generation of Army leadership. You have provided a great example for me and my peers.
As I write this, I am packing for my trip. Everything happens for a reason and perhaps we were delayed for this opportunity. I know I have grown from it and look forward to my own chance to impact others.