Cadets impress ROTC commander
November 8, 2016
He has been in charge of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at IUPUI for a little more than a year, but Lt. Col. Tim LaBahn has already learned one lesson: His organization has some impressive cadets in an ROTC program that has adopted the nickname Capital Warrior Battalion.
"I have been really impressed with the skills, the commitment and the leadership that our cadets have demonstrated," said LaBahn, who said the unit lives up to the battalion motto: "First to lead, second to none."
The ROTC at IUPUI has been a campus tradition since it was formed in October 1981. LaBahn, who took command in 2015, is a former ROTC cadet, earning a commission while a student at George Washington University in the 1990s. He believes that ROTC can shape a budding military career, even when a cadet is early in his or her college days.
ROTC is part of the Department of Military Science, which is based in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management.
The organization is making its mark on the more than 90 IUPUI cadets currently enrolled, about 30 percent of whom are women.
"ROTC helps cadets develop their leadership skills," LaBahn said. "Those skills are valuable whether you are in military service or in a civilian career." Cadets have to learn to manage their time, work as part of a team, develop unit cohesion, and solve problems individually and together in exercises that include physical training, marksmanship, conflict management, cultural understanding, and learning tactics and strategies to develop plans that achieve goals.
Such skills helped LaBahn in a U.S. Army career that has taken him around the world. He has been posted in places like Germany, Kuwait, Qatar and Korea; served in combat situations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan; and has been stationed at various U.S. bases, all as part of field artillery units.
ROTC is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and throughout its history has provided a bridge between college academics and military service. In fact, LaBahn said, the Army has been building new programs to help expand the academic horizons of its soldiers, helping them pursue careers in in-demand fields such as technology and cybersecurity, health care and many more.
"The Army knows the value of having people with those skills as part of its team," he said. In fact, LaBahn noted, ROTC provides 80 percent of U.S. Army officers, regardless of any specialized skills or training they might possess.
The battalion has had many cadets who have become successful in their civilian careers and remain in the Indianapolis area. LaBahn hopes to build a relationship with those graduates with fond memories of their ROTC days.
"They can set a good example and be strong mentors for our cadets," he said. "I want our cadets to hear that message."