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Cornell University

Army Reserve Officers Training Corps

AROTC at Cornell University

About ROTC

The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is an all-encompassing leadership, academic, and physical challenge. Participating students will have the unique opportunity to become an Army officer while also earning a degree at a prestigious Ivy League institution. Graduates of the ROTC program emerge as 2nd Lieutenants in the Active Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. They work very well under pressure, are great communicators, and know how to lead effectively. ROTC graduates are highly sought after for their leadership and technical skills.

Our program is housed at the historic Barton Hall (formerly New York State Drill Hall) on Cornell’s campus, and we welcome Cornell students as well as cadets belonging our satellite schools of Elmira College, Ithaca College, SUNY Binghamton, and SUNY Cortland. ROTC cadets will have the unique challenge of balancing academics with their military training and will be rewarded for their efforts, graduating from the program as proven leaders.

What Does it Mean for Me?

The average cadet spends 2-5 hours a week in ROTC activities. While the time commitment increases with seniority, cadets maintain the ability to study and enjoy a typical college experience outside of the program. As a student in ROTC, you can expect your weekly commitment to consist of the following required activities:

Physical Training

A baseline level of fitness is required to execute military missions. As such, physical readiness a cornerstone of the ROTC program. Our physical training (PT) consists of hour-long strength and endurance training with a focus on cardiovascular and muscular development. While physical training is a required part of ROTC, it is not boot camp. PT sessions are challenging but fun, and it is a great way to get one’s workout out of the way, start the day focused and relaxed, and increase discipline throughout the semester.

Military Science Lectures and Lab

Military Science coursework is divided into two phases: The basic and the advanced level courses. All students are encouraged to take the basic level course. These classes typically take place during a student’s first two years of ROTC and include content ranging from leadership communication and time management to troop leading procedures, symbology, and squad-level tactics.

The advanced level course requires students to be contracted into ROTC program and committed to commissioning in order to participate. These classes go in depth into platoon-level tactics with the goal of preparing students for Advanced Camp. At the conclusion of this course, students will be capable of planning, coordinating, navigating, motivating, and leading a squad or platoon in the execution of a mission.

Field Training Exercises

Once per semester, cadets will do a leadership exercise in the field that will last an entire weekend. During this training, cadets will plan and participate in a variety of offensive and defensive operations, practice land navigation, and set up a patrol base. This is a great opportunity for students to build comradery with their teams and apply their weekly lectures in a dynamic and practical setting.

Summer Training and Optional Opportunities

There are plenty of summer training and optional activities that cadets can participate in to augment the baseline ROTC curriculum. These activities give cadets a chance to expand their leadership and athletic ability and better get to know their fellow cadets.

Summer Training

Advanced Camp

Advanced Camp is a four-week paid summer training designed to evaluate leadership, basic soldier skills, and critical problem solving under stress. The course takes place in Fort Knox, KY. Cadets must be contracted in order to attend, and completion is required in order to obtain a commission after graduation. Over the course of the 30 days, cadets will receive numerous classes and briefs and will spend nearly 15 of the 30 days in field conditions. The Advanced Camp field problem is the culminating test of competence in ROTC and provides an invaluable real-world application of classroom material. Having completed their requirements to commission, cadets leave Advanced Camp ready to lead their battalions for the next academic year.

Basic Camp

Basic Camp is a way for current college students to begin participating in our program as late as their junior year. Basic Camp is a four-week course that develops leadership skills and allows immediate entry into the ROTC Advanced Course. Training will include topics such as marksmanship, orienteering, rappelling and water survival. With a focus on platoon-level tactics, cadets gain experience leading their team through practical exercises. Basic Camp is open to college students that are not currently enrolled in ROTC, as well as ROTC cadets that joined the program sometime during the middle of their freshman, sophomore, or junior year.

Airborne School

Each year, Excelsior Battalion sends students to the US Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, GA. Select cadets will experience three weeks of training alongside cadets, soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen from all across the US. The focus of this training is on how to jump out of high-performance military aircraft.

The three-phase course culminates in the completion of five parachute jumps from either a C-130 Hercules or a C-17 Globemaster aircraft. Participating trainees will get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to float in the skies of Fryar Drop Zone in Alabama. At the end of the five weeks, students are awarded their airborne wings, making each student a member of the historical and well-respected airborne paratroopers.

Air Assault School

Cadets of Excelsior battalion have the unique opportunity to attend Air Assault School at either Fort Campbell, KY or Fort Drum, NY. Air Assault is designed to train students to be proficient in air assault operations by helicopter and is infamously known as ‘the hardest ten days of the Army.’

Passing the course requires physical and mental prowess. Meticulous attention to detail is required to pass an equipment layout on the first day. Content tested covers the capabilities of the Army’s helicopters, introductory pathfinder operations, and the creation of flight plans. Students learn how to attach different loads to the bottom of aircraft safely, and competent trainees are given the chance to rappel from a helicopter. After completing a final ruck march, students are awarded their air assault wings and can be proud all they’ve accomplished over ten days of incredibly difficult training.

Project GO

Army ROTC has a number of paid summer internships for current and prospective cadets. These are excellent professional preparation for a career with the Army. Many of these internships are available through Project GO which allows cadets to study a foreign language at an exchange university around the globe for college credit.

Optional Activities

Ranger Challenge

Every year, US Army Cadet Command (USACC) hosts Ranger Challenge events for each of its 8 Brigades (or regions). Cornell University and its branch campuses fall into the 2nd Brigade and competes against 41 other ROTC programs from the northeastern United States. Ranger Challenge is a 48-hour event that tests 10-person teams’ fitness, critical thinking, and teamwork capabilities. Members of the Ranger Challenge team will begin training in the spring with competition occurring during the 3rd weekend of October. The winners from each Brigade are afforded the opportunity to advance onto national-level competition.

Army Ten-Miler

Every year, Cornell’s battalion sends ten cadets to Washington D.C. for one weekend in October to run the Army Ten Miler. The team is funded by the Jahn family as a way to commemorate their late son Trevor, who was a valued member of our Battalion. The team started participating in the annual event in 2005. Cadets participating in the race can expect to see their run times improve dramatically over weeks of structured training alongside their peers. The ten-miler is a great opportunity to travel and improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

Color Guard

The Excelsior Battalion prides itself on community engagement. The color guard imparts the important tradition of carrying the flags (or colors) of the nation, the state, the military services, and/or Cornell University. Members of the color guard will travel and present the colors during the national anthem at sporting events or local parades. The color guard is often tri-service, allowing for cadets and midshipmen to get to know each other and build lasting professional relationships.