Over the past six months, I have been traveling across the country conveying a common theme: This is the best first Flag duty in our Navy.
Over the next six months, I have the pleasure of describing exactly what makes Naval accessions training so rewarding.
I am going to focus on each component of the Naval Service Training Command domain and there is no better place to start than with Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).
NROTC is an excellent Naval accessions training option for civilians transitioning to military as well as enlisted aspiring to earn their undergraduate degree and commission as an officer.
I am a proud graduate of the NROTC program at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. During my recent visit and conversations with midshipmen, it was clear that the tradition of excellence lives on.
The NROTC program is directed by military and civilian experts from our department of Officer Development in Pensacola, Fla. They represent the highest standard of professionalism and diligently manage the accessions training program for midshipmen, from their acceptance in to NROTC to commissioning as the newest officers of our Navy and Marine Corps.
Officer Development commendably sustains a monumental responsibility, overseeing 77 NROTC host units and 89 cross town affiliates at 166 colleges and universities across the country. I want to express my gratitude to Officer Development for welcoming me to their annual business meeting in Pensacola, where I was able to meet all the NROTC commanding officers and executive officers – keep up the great work!
NROTC produces roughly one-third of our Navy’s newest officers every year. NROTC is a multi-year program that runs concurrently with a student’s normal college or university educational course of study. In addition to their normal academic workload leading to a degree, NROTC students attend classes in Naval Science, participate in drill, physical training, and are taught the leadership principles and core values of a military officer.
NROTC students also participate in Summer Cruise with deployed units as well as Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID). These give midshipmen hands-on experience in a broad range of the opportunities that are possible for them as Navy or Marine Corps officers. CORTRAMID is held at two different times each year, once on the east coast in Norfolk, Va., and once on the west coast in San Diego, Calif. It lasts four weeks, with each of the four weeks devoted to a different warfare specialty, including basic marinership skills such as sailing and navigation.
NROTC scholarships cover tuition, fees, textbooks and a monthly stipend as well as a guaranteed job following successful completion of program requirements.
This is quite an exciting year for NROTC, including a significant milestone marking the 90th anniversary of the program. In a letter dated July 20 1926, Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur formally announced the beginning of the program with the original six universities. Students began classes in fall of 1926 at Harvard, Yale, University of California Berkley, Georgia Tech, Northwestern and the University of Washington.
With the return to Yale in 2012, we now have NROTC back at all of the original six campuses. Yale midshipmen are doing great things in their training. This month, they are hosting an NROTC Leadership Conference to discuss the dynamics of leadership and security in the context of a rapidly evolving military and world.
I am also very happy to share that University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) is our newest school to host NROTC. In a ceremony this winter, I joined U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Dennis McGinn, and UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski to officially sign the proclamation. Their first Naval Science classes will commence this fall.
February also is African-American/Black History Month. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate Midshipman 1st Class Nsombi Roberts, a senior at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La.
She is the first African-American woman from the NROTC program to select service on a nuclear submarine. Midshipman Roberts is from Palm Bay, Fla., and participated in another of our great programs, NJROTC, while attending Bayside High School. I wish her the best of luck as she begins her career.
Another important event this month is ship selection for midshipmen who have selected to serve as surface warfare officers (SWO) in the Navy. SWOs play a key role in nearly every aspect of Navy missions, as they maintain and operate our many platforms of surface ships. Ship selection is a proud moment for future SWOs; it represents a culmination of all their hard work and their commencement as surface warriors joining the fleet.
My ship selection was an amazing experience. All SWOs remember their first tour and for me, being a plank owner on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) was a thrilling start to my career. I hope every midshipman feels the same way when they select their first ship.
Congratulations to all the NROTC midshipmen who are graduating and commissioning this spring and welcome aboard!
For those midshipmen who are still in training, keep striving for excellence and set your goals high!
I commend your commitment to earning both a degree and your commission as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps. It takes a lot to balance those two and I look forward to seeing you in the fleet.
To learn more about our NROTC program and to see what life is like as an NROTC midshipman, please visit our links: