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Our History

The Early Years: 1951 -1966

Fall semester 1951 began the future of ROTC at Idaho State College. During the next 40 years 542 cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants. ROTC was beneficial to both ISC and the Army. The Army anticipated about 25 new officers a year from the program.

When the program began, it was a requirement that all freshman and sophomore males be enrolled in ROTC. The following two-years were the students' choice. These first cadets were trained for the Chemical Corps. More than 200 freshmen males enrolled. In 1953 ROTC's mission was redefined to provide general military education.

As the program grew, ROTC formed a marching band and a drill team thus supplying their talents for school or community events. In 1957 the Scabbard & Blade Society received its national charter.

ROTC maintained a high profile through the 50's and into the early 60's, although students were questioning the "must enroll in" philosophy. In addition, ROTC faced controversy with anti-Vietnam protestors. A bill was passed in 1963 in which participation in ROTC would be voluntary. With that bill the enrollment everywhere began to decrease.

The Lean, Mean, In-between Years: 1967 - 1989

As the world moved on into the late 60's, through the 70's and 80's, ROTC went through a few changes. Requirements lessened for the introductory courses as far as standards of appearance. Leadership and training took a more contemporary path. Exercises took the form of rappelling, rafting, and field exercises versus the old-fashioned drill and ceremony. Another welcome change came in 1974 with women being fully accepted into the program. In 1981, 21 of the 100 cadets enrolled in ROTC were women.

End of the 20th Century: 1990 - 1991

As we began the last decade of the century, Idaho State University saw the close of the Army ROTC program. The Bengal Battalion was officially deactivated in 1991.

The New Millennium: 2000

As the new millennium dawned, so returns the Army ROTC program. After a nine-year hiatus, the program began again in January 2000 with a class of 34 students. Our first commissioning after the reactivation was held May 17, 2002, where we commissioned 7 officers. We have had the honor of commissioning Distinguished Military Graduates and recipients for the George C. Marshall award. All of our newly commissioned officers have proudly served in either the reserve or the active component of the US Army protecting our freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever else they may be called to serve.


The ISU Bengal Detachment continues to teach, lead, and commission future leaders. We help fine-tune Cadets leadership skills and self-confidence while they earn a college degree of his or her choice. Cadets gain skills that are sought after in both the military and civilian workforce.