Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA ROTC enrollment increases


A few miles from campus in Cottondale, Ala., The University of Alabama’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps performed a land navigation exercise. The temperature was hot and the students were only given a compass, map and protractor to guide them to at least five different checkpoints in the woods.

Capt. Jack Benford, assistant professor of military science, said the land navigation exercise builds confidence and trust in the students.

“It’s a challenge; it’s creative thinking, and it’s building a base for their leadership as they grow and continue,” Benford said.

Army Cadet Maj. Evan Horner, a senior majoring in chemistry, said the biggest benefit of being in the ROTC program is the opportunity to lead soldiers when he graduates.

At first, Horner tried a different route before joining the program but knew ROTC was where he needed to be.

“I will be a fourth-generation military service member,” Horner said. “I knew this was where home was. I had grown up with it and it’s where I feel comfortable.”

Benford said cadets are required to take a military science course two times a week, which counts for a three-hour course, and commit to physical training three times a week at 6 a.m.

Lt. Col. Ken Kemmerly, professor of military science and chair of the department, said the first two years of the program are like “drinking from a fire hose” for the cadets. Kemmerly said they learn so much information in a short amount of time.

The University’s ROTC program has grown significantly in the past year. There are 174 students enrolled this year, which is a jump from 131 last year.

Benford said the freshman class alone grew by 60 percent, and scholarship numbers have also increased from four scholarships last year to 16 this year.

Kemmerly said he thinks the increase in students has to do with how well the University is doing. He said along with the help of Nick Saban and the Paul “Bear” Bryant, recruitment focuses on the history of the military of the University.

“Alabama was a military school in 1860,” Kemmerly said. “Just the history alone should be an inspiration for the cadets to come here.”

Kemmerly said he focuses on confidence building for cadets. Confidence is the most important thing because if cadets can’t be confident in themselves, then they won’t be able to lead other soldiers in the future, he said.

The cadets learn how to solve problems, pay attention to details and believe in themselves to grow their confidence and help them to be leaders when they graduate, Kemmerly said.

Kemmerly said joining the ROTC program is a choice “bigger than yourself,” and the cadets who join the program not only help their country but also become better citizens.

For more information regarding the ROTC program, call Dan Gronke, Human Resource Assistant at 348-5917 or visit their website at

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