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ISU’s ROTC training future leaders of the United States Army for more than 50 years

October 7, 2015
ISU Marketing and Communications

POCATELLO – Idaho State University’s ROTC Army Reserve Officer Training Corps has helped students prepare for future careers in the military for more than 50 years.

“The biggest benefit of being a part of the ROTC program is serving your country, but on top of that, students are taught the foundation of leadership,” said Capt. Geoffrey Klein, ROTC department chair.

Cdt. Travis Holverson runs up a hill during a training exercise with Capt. Geoff Klein pictured in the background.
Cdt. Travis Holverson runs up a hill during a training exercise with Capt. Geoff Klein pictured in the background.

ROTC provides a combination of academics and hands-on training. Students are offered physical and mental challenges geared to help succeed in college and beyond. Students learn teamwork and be given responsibilities such as teaching younger cadets. In addition to on-campus training, it offers instruction in adventure training like mountaineering, rappelling and orienteering. ROTC labs are held on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and each semester one weekend field training exercise is held.

“During lab we organize our cadets into a platoon and squad structure, with the juniors acting as the platoon leadership and the sophomores acting as the junior leaders. We develop different tactical scenarios with changing variables to custom tailor the stress and difficulty level based on the leadership’s proficiency level,” Klein said.

As example a tactical scenario would be given to the cadets to complete a mission to attack and destroy an enemy mortar site. While on route to their objective, they can interject variables such as indirect fire artillery, fire falling on their position, sniper fire that inflicts causalities among the friendly forces or a civilian on the battlefield. The cadets then have to determine how to react to the variables.

Cdt. James Rodeman drags a litter, which Cdt. Dakota Woodyard is on.
In addition to this type of tactical training, the cadets train heavily on land navigation using a military map, compass and protractor. ROTC sets up land courses locally at City Creek or Mink Creek and conducts both day and night navigation. Cadets are also trained and tested on combat water survival and are taught basic rifle marksmanship and weapons care.

The ROTC began at ISU in 1951 when the school was still Idaho State College. During the next 40 years, 542 cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants. In 1974 women were accepted into the program. In 1981, 21 out of 100 cadets were women.

In 1991 Idaho State University closed the Army ROTC program. After a nine- year hiatus the program restarted in 2000.

Army ROTC is an elective curriculum students take along with their required college classes. Along with leadership training, Army ROTC can pay for college tuition through a variety of scholarships. Participates can start during their freshman and sophomore years without any obligation to join the Army. Upon graduation, participants are commissioned as an Officer in the Army. After being commissioned, officers can specialize in a wide variety of areas.

Cdt. Jade Parsons, left, and Cdt. Dakota Woodyard, during a recent training exercise.
Students who receive an Army ROTC scholarship or enter the Army ROTC Advanced Course must agree to complete a period of service with the Army. The ROTC also has a nursing program for undergraduates. Nursing students who are also Army ROTC cadets can benefit from hands-on, nursing opportunities while receiving financial assistance for college. Students can gain leadership experience and management training that can benefit either their private-sector or military nursing career.

“I’m just not sure how well we’re known on campus and if students know what we have to offer, but the ROTC program is definitely something students should investigate and take advantage of what it has to offer,” Klein said.

ROTC tries to support as many local activities as they can in an effort to build relations with the local community. In the past they have participated in several events in conjunction with other organizations. They have participated in the Armed Forces Club’s diaper drive. They supported the Pocatello and Chubbuck Kindness Fair, where they brought out a rock climbing wall and let kids enjoy climbing throughout the event.

“This year we participated in the ISU Family Night Out in conjunction with the Idaho National Guard and ISU athletics. The local National Guard brought out several inflatable obstacle courses and activities,” Klein said.

For more information on ROTC visit, or at ISU contact Capt. Klein at


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