Leaders for the era of persistent conflict 


ROTC cadets in water 
Army ROTC cadets at the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., gain confidence as they learn to operate in the water.  Army doctrine now calls for leaders who must be able to operate in joint, interagency and multi-national environments and, further, be culturally astute and capable to use this awareness and understanding to conduct operations innovatively.

‘You’re going to lead America’s treasure, our sons and daughters. And, you will lead them in combat. You’re joining the Army for deployment – not employment.’

Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley
Commanding General, U.S. Army Accessions Command
Addressing the 2010 Marshall ROTC Awards Seminar’s Opening Session


As the combat mission in Iraq winds down and our nation continues to face challenges in Afghanistan – the longest war the United States has fought with an all-volunteer force – the U.S. Army remains in the forefront of land warfare operations during, what the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., calls "an era of persistent conflict."

But the nature of these conflicts is evolving – and so the leaders of today and tomorrow must be trained to adapt to these changes not only in the unique battle spaces of the 21st century, but also in the cultural climates where they are serving.

Army doctrine now calls for leaders who must be able to operate in joint, interagency and multi-national environments and, further, be culturally astute and capable to use this awareness and understanding to conduct operations innovatively.

The bottom line is to build and sustain an Army – through its leaders – that has the right blend of culture and foreign language capabilities "to facilitate full-spectrum operations."

"One of the byproducts of this persistent and protracted conflict that we have been in for so long, is the realization that to be truly effective, our leaders must be culturally aware," the commanding general of the U.S Army Cadet Command, said.

Maj. Gen. Arthur M. Bartell added, "Our leaders must have the ability to understand the cultural differences and understand the impact that these cultural differences have on accomplishing their mission."

Speaking to AUSA NEWS at the U.S. Army Cadet Command – George C. Marshall ROTC Awards and Leadership Seminar convened at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Va., in mid April, Bartell, who is responsible for training and producing 60 percent of the commissioned officers for the U.S. Army through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and, since October 1998, the federal Officer Candidate School (OCS), has, by all standards, an awesome task.

Cadet Command was stood up in 1986, and Bartell, an ROTC graduate from the University of Michigan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant of field artillery, is its eighth commander.

There are 273 host institutions – with an additional 1,063 partnership schools of higher education affiliated with host schools – across America and in U.S. territories – with the ROTC program.

There are over 35,000 cadets in the college-level program.

The Junior ROTC program, also under cadet command, has units on 1,668 high school campuses around the world to include Germany, Japan, Korea, Guam, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

There are over 280,000 high school students in this program that promotes and develops good leadership and citizen skills.

Next year, 43 schools will be added, and 43 the year after that. In 2019, the command will have 1,910 schools.

The federal OCS program is conducted exclusively at Fort Benning Ga., the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence (formerly the infantry school and center).

On August 24, Casey announced that Bartell will be re-assigned to become the director, J-3, United States Forces-Iraq.

It has been announced by the Department of the Army that Maj. Gen. James M. McDonald, who holds the J-3 post in Iraq, will be assigned as the ninth commander of Cadet Command later this year.

To address the need for increasing cultural awareness in the Army’s future leaders, the Department of Defense, in conjunction with the Department of the Army, has developed a training program designed to give leaders the necessary tools to acclimate themselves to a host nation’s culture.


"What has sprung out of that process," Bartell said, "is what we call ‘CULP’ – our Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program, an immersion effort where we will send cadets to a foreign country and actually immerse them in the culture and in the language."

The Cadet Command formed a partnership with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2006 to deploy academy and ROTC cadets overseas.

In 2007, 21 cadets deployed, 94 in 2008, and 227 in 2009.

In October 2009, Cadet Command, realizing the program’s potential of this, stood up its Culture and Language Division in its G-3 directorate and officially chartered the CULP pilot program for three years.

Not knowing where the need will arise in the future, Bartell said, "We actually send cadets all over the world. We send them to Africa. We send them to Taiwan. We send them to South America. This is to immerse them and have them work and live in another culture."

This extra dimensional training program for the Army’s future leaders is done during the school year and some are sent during the summer months.

"It’s primarily for our MS-2 cadets – our sophomores – in the summer between their second and third year of college. Although some cadets are able to go during the school year," he said.

The CULP program is, however, flexible.

"We did send," Bartell said, "a group of cadets to Taiwan during their winter break. The timing worked out well. So, these cadets actually gave up their winter holiday to go on one of our cultural immersion deployments."

Bartell made it clear that this wasn’t "just a trip."

"They don’t go on a vacation [for a week or two]," he said. "They are required to do a lot of work before they go. The cadets have very specific objectives they must achieve while they are deployed, and when they return, they have a very specific list of requirements that are part of their AAR – After Action Review – of the trip."

Upon their return, cadets are required to present written and oral reports that are shared with their professors of military science (PMS) personnel and their fellow cadets.

Adding, "This ensures we are getting a good return on the investment, and the Army is getting a much more experienced leader when they enter the ranks."

In addition to the cultural awareness aspect of this leadership training program, there is the important language component.

The Defense Department, according to Army officials, has identified a list of critical languages – such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto, Urdu, and Farsi, to cite a few.

To incentivize cadets, the service subsidizes the cost of studying the critical languages. As the cadet becomes more proficient in the language, the language then melds into the cultural awareness aspect of the training.

In June 2009, Cadet Command began paying cadets a Culture and Language Incentive Pay – Bonus of $250 a credit hour –up to $3,000 a year.

According to Windle "Ray" Causey, chief, Culture and Language Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff – G-3, U.S. Army Cadet Command, during Fiscal Year 2010, nearly 900 ROTC cadets successfully completed approximately 500 strategic language courses.

This far exceeded expectations and, as a result, the Army predicted this trend should increase steadily in the future.

Cadets are now expected to select a region of the world and begin training to a level of competence both in the region’s culture and its languages to meet the established goals prior to graduation and commissioning

"So, for example," Bartell said, "if we have cadets studying Chinese, then they will be the ones selected to go to our Taiwan cultural immersion training program. They will be immersed in the culture; immersed in the language."

Not only is CULP a successful program by Defense Department and Department of the Army standards, it is rapidly becoming very popular as a goal to pursue among the most important audience – ROTC cadets.

"We are getting rave reviews from the field," Bartell said, "and in the ROTC program, we have more applications than we have spaces. And, this program is still in its infancy."

Those "rave reviews from the field" center on the feedback from commanders saying "our lieutenants are more culturally astute and they integrate more quickly into their units on the cultural side [of the equation]."

Now, there is a cultural awareness component at the Leader Development Assessment Course – Operation Warrior Forge – the 29-day training event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., for cadets between their third and fourth year of college.

At Operation Warrior Forge "cadets are faced with dynamic situations, where they are forced to make decisions based on situations – culturally dynamic situations – and circumstances that are based in other cultures," he said.

Bottom line: The Army is training, producing and growing future leaders through the ROTC program who possess the right blend of language and cultural skills required to support global operations in a state of persistent conflict that is predicted for the remainder of the 21st century.


‘We want our leaders to be leaders of character and competence who are supremely competent in their core efficiency whatever that may be. … We want them to be culturally astute, to have the intellect to see opportunities that present themselves and the courage to act on them. We want them to be firmly grounded in the Warrior Ethos.’

Gen. George W, Casey Jr.
Army Chief of Staff
Addressing the 2010 Marshall ROTC Awards Seminar Plenary Session


Success stories

As the leader in training and growing the culturally-aware officers – the future leaders of America’s Army – for this century, the Cadet Command must produce the number of second lieutenants necessary to meet the Army’s manning levels.

For example, in 2009, the command’s mission was to commission 4,500 cadets. As the demands of the service increased with time, and the Fiscal Year 2011 mission was increased to 5,350 commissioned.

Bartell feels strongly that this mission will be accomplished, and this will result in 3,050 officers for the active component; 1,300 for the Army National Guard; and 750, Army Reserve.

"This is a tribute to our team," Bartell said, "and we are making this increase [from 4,500 last year] with no degradation in quality. Actually, there is an increase in quality."

Quality of cadets

As the number of cadets to be commissioned grew, Bartell said the quality of the cadets recruited and entering ROTC has not diminished and it has not been sacrificed for quantity.

"When we look at our national scholarship statistics, the SAT scores, the GPAs (grade point averages), they are all showing a steady uptick. And, of course, our ROTC scholarships are all merit based. So we are seeing a higher-quality applicant."

Seeing the quality of cadets go up commensurate with the quantity needed, "I always tell my professors of military science, ‘quality is more important than quantity.’ If I miss my quantity mark – it’s not going to be by much. But if I miss it because I’m only bringing in the best – I can live with that."

Adding, "I don’t want to bring anyone into the program just to make a number – our troops don’t deserve that, our nation doesn’t deserve that, our Army doesn’t deserve that."

The number of ROTC scholarships – three year and two year – has also increased over the years, attracting highly-competitive, academically-oriented young men and women to the program.

The Cadet Command is also seeing a higher retention rate with the recipients of an ROTC scholarship. Although analyzing the data from a brief period of current time, those who accept a scholarship are showing a "greater propensity to stay in the program."

In his opening remarks at VMI’s Center for Leadership and Ethics to the top MS-4 (senior year) ROTC cadets from each college and university who were selected for the Marshall award for their academic, leadership and military accomplishments, Bartell underscored the quality of the attendees by saying: "This event celebrates Cadet Command’s the ‘Best and the Brightest,’ … congratulations on this great achievement.

"As young leaders at the ‘Tip of the Spear,’ you will be expected to think outside the proverbial box. In remote locations you will lead your soldiers in critical tasks like nation-building and rule of law."

Feedback from ‘Down Range’

The ultimate test of a leader in today’s Army is his or her performance "Down Range," specifically while deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, now called Operation New Dawn, or in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

This is where the training, knowledge and leadership capabilities of our Army’s junior leaders – lieutenants and captains – are tested to the fullest and measured by their senior leaders.

"I am getting calls and reports from our [deployed senior leaders] on what they think about the quality of the lieutenants they are getting," Bartell said. "Across the board, our [ROTC] lieutenants are getting high marks."

Adding, "They are coming to units with the basic military skill sets they need and the branch skills they need. And, more importantly, they are of good character and are physically and mentally fit."

Also reported to Cadet Command – the ROTC-commissioned lieutenants and captains have the intellectual capacity that enables them to solve complex problems quickly and during difficult circumstances.

The pool of eligible Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 who qualify to become Army officers is now down to 2.5 men or women per 10.

As Bartell put it: "That’s a pretty shallow pool we are fishing in to find the numbers we are looking for – without having a reduction in quality."

Adding, "It’s very gratifying for me [and Cadet Command] to know that we can still tell the leadership of the Army that we can be selective."

Bartell said, "I’m really very proud of our team at Cadet Command. Our success is the Army’s success.

"I’m proud of the fact that we are able to continue to produce the quality of [future Army leaders] while we are involved in an over a nine-year conflict.

"And, we still have unbelievable young Americans who are raising their hands and saying they want to serve this great nation as Army officers."


‘You volunteered to serve at a time when you knew, with full conviction, that we would place you in harm’s way. And so, that makes you a very extraordinary group of young men and women.’

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
Addressing Marshal ROTC Awards Seminar Closing Session