Cadets, Camo and Cannons: UCM’s Army ROTC


Photo by Trevor Vanpool

Cadets get briefed on their capture the flag lab at Knob Noster State Park. Photo submitted by Trevor Vanpool.

  They put the flag up every Monday and take it down every Friday. They shoot the cannon at football games and can be seen roaming campus in uniform. When they’re not in uniform, they are in classes, extracurriculars or working jobs like any other student. They are the Army ROTC at the University of Central Missouri. 

  ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps. Its main goal is getting students a degree while simultaneously training them to become officers within the United States Military.

  “It is a leadership factory,” professor of military science at UCM, Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Boatwright, said. “You come in and we’ll teach you to be a leader, whether it is for the Army or for your life. We can provide you with the basic set of skills to be able to ask the right questions, communicate with people, take charge when you need to, lead when you’re being led and we train like pro-athletes over here so that we are always ready for whatever that role is.” 

  When a student, or cadet, becomes an officer in the military, they recieve what is known as a commission. To do so, a cadet must meet the requirements stated in their ROTC contract. 

  “You have to graduate to commission,” Boatwright said. “You can’t just do well in ROTC, you have to do well everywhere. If you don’t get a degree, you don’t commission. If you don’t pass your classes, you don’t commission.”   

  Boatwright is the head of the Army ROTC program at UCM. He oversees the curriculum given to the program by Cadet Command, which is in charge of the entirety of ROTC programs throughout the nation. The staff of the program, or Cadre, consists of both active duty, prior service and retired members. Each has specific skill sets that aid in the teaching and training of the cadet core. The cadet core is made up of every grade level, but its focus on training is for the Cadet Summer Training bound cadets. 

  CST is the most important evaluation of a cadet, and is a primary factor in the cadet obtaining their preferences of job or branch and service status, which is either active duty, national guard or reserve. 

  “The ultimate goal for everything that the battalion and staff plans and that we do as the cadre is shaping that CST bound population to go to that final culminating event prior to their senior year that meets all the minimum commissioning requirements,” Boatwright said.  

  Although the curriculum is carried out by the cadre, much of the battalion’s operations, such as PT and labs, are run by the cadet core itself.  

  “It is a cadet led organization, but each key leader in the cadets has a senior mentor from the actual staff to help assist in what they do,” Boatwright said.

  Senior Cadets, such as Grace Peak, hold roles vital to proper operation of the battalion. Peak is the current Command Sergeant Major of the battalion at UCM. Once cadets like Peak leave the program at the end of the semester, they will change their roles with the current CST-bound cadets, who are currently juniors . 

    One of those CST-bound cadets who has left a great impact on the current leaders and underclassmen of the program is cadet of the 2021 fall semester, Calli Kernen. Kernen is a junior majoring in criminal justice and minoring in psychology, global security and military science. Cadets, like Kernen, do many other things just like any other college student while not in uniform. Kernen herself is also involved with the academic fraternity LAEE and has participated in multiple intramural sports. 

  “There is a place for every kind of personality within the Army because there are so many opportunities,” Kernen said.

  The success of the program relies on good leadership from every cadet, and Kernen has produced much of that. She has now taken on other leadership roles within the program and will be second in command of the battalion commander as the executive officer in the following semester.

  In the next few weeks, the ROTC program will continue training its CST-bound cadets for their summer training, and the seniors of the program will have their commissioning ceremony to become second lieutenants on May 5, 2022.