The Joint Military Science Leadership Center will prepare ROTC units for future combined operations.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
Published September 18, 2004
TAMPA - Army ROTC MS2 Anne Bustraan knows little about the other military service programs offered at the University of South Florida, where she is a sophomore.
The units study separately, Bustraan said, and go through their morning physical training exercises apart from one another, though they often see each other across the field.
In the world of combat, such segregation is becoming passe, said Army Reserve Col. Luis Visot, who led the 32nd Transport Group in Iraq from March 2003 through February.
"In order for us to meet our mission requirements, we must work with each other," Visot said.
Backed by a $6-million federal appropriation, USF kicked off a new program Friday to meet that goal. The Joint Military Science Leadership Center, which Visot will head, aims to train future Armed Forces officers to "value, operate and conduct" successful operations across unit, agency and even international lines.
If it works at USF, the concept likely will expand to other universities that have more than one ROTC unit, said U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Largo, who put the money into the 2004 Defense Appropriations bill.
"As you follow Afghanistan, Iraq and Desert Storm, the joint operations are more evident every day," Young said. "I believe that starting to expose these young folks who will be the leaders of our military to jointness early on will be good for them and good for our military."
Vice Admiral Eric T. Olson, deputy commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said the endeavor is past due because it's so necessary.
"There is virtually no military operation now, certainly no military campaign, that is not joint in nature," said Olson, who participated in a USF panel discussion about the center. "Those that are most successful are most joint."
He said the concept does not mean putting all the services in a blender and eliminating their uniqueness. It means finding the best of each, he said, and maximizing its capabilities by bringing them all together.
Olson said the USF center will help teach future military leaders to understand this new way of thinking.
Young said starting the joint training model at USF made sense. The school has three ROTC units - Army, Navy and Air Force - which is not the case at most universities.
It also is located near MacDill Air Force Base, Central Command and Special Operations Command, all of which employ joint operations, he said.
Placing the new center at a public university rather than a service academy also was logical, Young noted in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The academies, he said, account for only 18 percent of the officer corps.
"We have great military academies, but many of our officers rise up through the ranks," Young said Friday. "So this is a tremendous investment."
The center will start with seminars on joint operations, Visot said, while the ROTC staff works on a curriculum. The first program, scheduled for Oct. 16 at MacDill Air Force Base, is called, "SOCOM: Joint Perspectives for Future Service Leaders and Officers."
In November, the USF Air Force ROTC detachment will sponsor a seminar about the global war on terrorism.
Bustraan, the sophomore in Army ROTC, said she looks forward to the opportunities the center promises to provide.
"Hopefully, this will help unify us," she said. "It will give us a heads-up to be more prepared."