Brito: Army Offers ‘First Choice’ Opportunities

Brito: Army Offers ‘First Choice’ Opportunities

Gen. Gary Brito greets cadets at the Army Cadet Luncheon during the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (Pete Marovich for AUSA)
Photo by: Pete Marovich for AUSA

As the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition got underway, the commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command urged a ballroom full of cadets not to be distracted by the elaborate technology and futuristic vision-casting on display.

“The future is not only across the street,” Gen. Gary Brito said at a cadet awards luncheon. “Most of it—the most important part—is here in this room."

Speaking Oct. 9, days after the Army announced it would overhaul its approach to recruiting after a series of missed accession goals, Brito reminded the cadets in the room that they represent the service's future leaders and its ambassadors to the community. He noted that over 6,000 second lieutenants are commissioned annually through ROTC, and that Army Cadet Command is the largest provider of merit-based scholarships in the country, awarding over $300 million to more than 12,000 students.

“That may give you the step up that you need,” Brito said. 

More than half the attendees at the luncheon were junior and senior ROTC cadets; the room applauded as they stood to be recognized. Brito emphasized the responsibility entrusted to the cadets.

“We must continue to ensure that all Americans, all young men and women, see what the great United States Army has to offer as a first choice,” he said. And when the cadets take time to look around at the soldiers they would someday lead, they will know their own choice was the right one, he said. “You’ll be motivated and inspired every day,” he said.

By way of a challenge, Brito called on the cadets to excel in simple but profound tasks: take care of your soldiers, lead well and accomplish the mission. Foremost, he said, should be the values of competence, character and commitment. “This nation needs you to master your craft,” he added.

In addition to presenting scholarships to cadets from Florida A&M University, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and the University of North Georgia, the AUSA luncheon featured the induction of 25 new members into the Army ROTC Hall of Fame. Three posthumous inductions included Gen. Richard Cavazos, the first Hispanic Army four-star general and the new namesake of the former Fort Hood, Texas, and Capt. Maurice Lee “Footsie” Britt, the first soldier in World War II to earn all the Army’s valor medals and a college all-star football player for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Among the living recipients, Brito singled out Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais, his deputy commanding general at Training and Doctrine Command and a decorated 35-year officer, and Maj. Gen. James Bonner, deputy commanding general at U.S. Army North and previously a transformative leader at the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Moore, Georgia, formerly known as Fort Benning. 

“Both of these humble and professional leaders represent all that you can be as you begin your leadership journey,” Brito told the cadets. “They are as humble today as they were 30-something years ago, and still represent the same level of care, commitment and competence.”

— Hope Hodge Seck for AUSA