Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series
Initially, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Central Arkansas was under the command of U.S. Fourth Army. However, it is now administered under the 5th Brigade of the U.S. Army Cadet Command. The U.S. Army Cadet Command falls under the command of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command which is headquartered at Fort Eustis, Virginia. There are 36 university host institutions in the 5th Brigade and the total number of university host institutions in the U.S. Army Cadet Command is 273, spread out over 8 brigades.
After serving the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), Hendrix College and Central Baptist College for 22 years, it was announced by the Cadet Command Headquarters in Fort Monroe, Virginia, that UCA’s ROTC program would be eliminated in 1991. According to an August 30, 1990 article in The Echo, Lt. Colonel C.D. Morgan, Professor of Military Science stated, “Bottom-line statistics are what Congress looks at when cuts are made. UCA has not had enough officers graduating to retain the program.”
UCA had 12 ROTC officers graduate in 1990, nine in 1989, five in 1988 and four in 1987. In the fall of 1990, when the announcement was made that the program was going to be cancelled 74 students were enrolled in UCA’s ROTC program. Lt. Colonel Morgan described how the new program would work, and stated, “The administration was also working on a cross-enrollment plan with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Students would be allowed to take ROTC course at UALR, but they could still graduate from UCA.”
For a few semesters UCA ROTC students traveled to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) for classes. However, UCA’s ROTC program was never truly eliminated and the program headed by the UALR ROTC unit, when it served as the host institution, was short-lived. According to UCA’s Dr. Neil Hattlestad, Dean of College of Health and Applied Sciences in 1991, “The decision was reversed based on the fact that UCA’s enrollment was the largest in the region and UCA had the most spacious facilities for the program.”
Today, UCA serves as the host institution for five other universities and colleges that include, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas Tech University and Hendrix College. There are currently 121 students enrolled in ROTC from UCA and the other five partnership institutions. Of the 121 cadets, 24 are females making up 20% of the total number of cadets.
According to the Army ROTC website the mission of Army ROTC is, “The U.S. Army Cadet Command commissions officers to meet the Army’s leadership requirements; and provides a citizenship program that motivates young people to be strong leaders and better citizens.”
The UCA ROTC unit is known as the Bayonet Battalion and the Army officer in charge is known in Army terms as Professor of Military Science. The ROTC Professor of Military Science serves essentially as chair of the Department of Military Science and Leadership. UCA’s Professor of Military Science is Lieutenant Colonel Tracy Koivisto. Lt. Col. Koivisto is the first female to serve in that capacity at UCA. When asked about being the first female head of UCA’s Department of Military Science and Leadership, she stated, “The Army leads the way in practicing equality, whether it be gender or race.” Lt. Col. Koivisto said she doesn’t think about gender in regard to her position. She assumed command of the UCA ROTC unit in July 2010 and in all probability will remain at UCA until July 2014.
Lt. Col. Koivisto received her commission as a 2nd Lieutenant when she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in December 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She also holds a Master of Arts in human relations from the University of Oklahoma. Koivisto has an impressive resume and has served in several capacities in many locations with the Army.
She has served as a Platoon Leader, Battalion Personnel Officer and Battalion Assistant Operations and Training Officer in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Lt. Col. Koivisto served as a Brigade Logistics Officer and commanded the 69th Air Defense Brigade Headquarters Battery in Gieblestadt, Germany for 19 months.
From June 2002 to December 2005, Lt. Col. Koivisto was an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Maryland. She later served in a variety of staff positions in the Army Sustainment Command at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. While stationed at the Army Sustainment Command she was deployed to Iraq where she was the Support Operations Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade. Upon her return from Iraq she was again assigned to the Army Sustainment Command prior to leaving that post for duty at UCA as Professor of Military Science in the Department of Military Science and Leadership.
Lt. Col. Koivisto has received the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Lt. Col. Koivisto commands a staff of 19 officers, non-commissioned officers and civilians. The UCA ROTC unit has a total of 12 personnel, one active duty lieutenant colonel, two active duty majors, two active duty master sergeants, two contractors (one officer, one non-commissioned officer) four government civilians and one university secretary. Eight more personnel are stationed at Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University and Arkansas Tech University. The Bayonet Battalion is still located in Meadors Hall, the building in which it was first housed in 1968. Meadors Hall was built during the Great Depression and originally served as a men’s dormitory; it was dedicated in 1937.
When asked to describe the main contribution that ROTC makes to the Army and to our society, Lt. Col. Koivisto stated, “To meet the Army’s leadership requirements. ROTC is the commissioning source for 75% of the Army’s officers. ROTC also motivates young people to be better citizens.” The remaining 25% of Army officers come from graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point and from the Army’s Officer Candidate School. Koivisto said that anyone (regardless of age) can enroll in the freshman and sophomore ROTC classes. Students who enroll in leadership lab or physical training are issued a uniform and must adhere to Army grooming standards.
ROTC students who enroll in the advanced classes will participate in a course called Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), formerly known as Summer Camp. During LDAC, ROTC students engage in many areas of training, including weapons training, rappelling, squad tactics, water confidence and the obstacle course.
Students enrolled in ROTC can compete for scholarships. A scholarship will include full tuition and fees, $600 for books and a monthly stipend. The monthly stipend increases as the student progresses, with $300 per month for freshmen, $350 per month for sophomores, $450 per month for juniors and $500 per month for seniors.
A student currently enrolled in UCA’s ROTC program, Waylon Biggs, is a senior and will graduate and receive his commission as a 2nd lieutenant in May 2013. Cadet Biggs began taking ROTC courses at UCA as a freshman. At the age of 17, while still a senior in high school, he joined the Army Reserves with the written permission of his mother.
Cadet Biggs has several relatives who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. When asked why he wanted to enroll and complete the ROTC course of study and become a commissioned officer, Cadet Biggs stated, “I joined the ROTC program to become an Army Officer. Ever since high school I have wanted to become an Army officer. My grandfather, Bill Kincaid, is my inspiration for me serving in the U.S. Military. A big reason I am in Army ROTC is because of my respect and admiration for my Grandfather Kincaid. When I initially came to UCA I was a management major, now I’m a finance major. ROTC is not a management major, but, you really do learn how to manage. You learn how to manage people. ROTC creates future business leaders as well as future Army officers, so that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve gained through ROTC.”
When asked what his goals were, Cadet Biggs stated, “My biggest goal is to become a successful platoon leader first and foremost as a lieutenant. Then eventually have a company command and be successful there as well.”
Another UCA ROTC cadet who will graduate and be commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in May 2013 is Cadet Richard Terry. Cadet Terry was born in Texarkana, Texas and grew up in Little Rock. When asked why he went into ROTC, Cadet Terry stated, “A long time ago I figured out I wanted to join the military. After September 11, 2001, I decided I needed to join the military when I was old enough. That I needed to do something to advance the interests of our nation and that joining the military would be the best way to do that. As I got older I figured out I would like to have a college education and I wanted to become educated.
I looked into the ROTC program and I saw what it had to offer and I liked the idea of leading as opposed to following, I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be the person making the decisions and coming up with plans. That’s essentially why I chose to become an officer.”
Cadet Terry was about 10 years old on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States. He had heard about the attack while at school and upon returning home he noticed his parents were quite upset about the attack. Cadet Terry commented on his remembrance of the attack and stated, “I remember going home and my parents seemed really upset and they turned on the evening news and I remember watching the aftermath of it and wondered who would do this. I felt emotions that day as a little kid that I had never felt before in my life.”
When asked what impact ROTC has on the United States, Cadet Terry stated, “It makes leaders, effective leaders, that serve in the military and creates leaders that will use the nation’s assets in only the best way and will not waste our nation’s assets when it comes to warfare. Also, once an officer retires, if he or she chooses to do so, they can go into other sectors on the civilian side and provide a new style of leadership to corporations. Not only does it provide our military with a good leader that will use our assets effectively, it will also impact the civilian world if that person decides to get out of the military and use their leadership abilities elsewhere.” Cadet Terry said he wanted to serve under combat arms during his Army career.
Author’s Note: Sources for this article include The Echo, Log Cabin Democrat, Lt. Col. Tracy Koivisto, Cadet Waylon Biggs, Cadet Richard Terry, Dr. Neil Hattlestad, M99-01, Official Records of the University of Central Arkansas held by the UCA Archives, the Army ROTC website http://www.rotc.monroe.army.mil/, and website of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command http://www.tradoc.army.mil/index.asp.