ROTC instructor says ASCC’s program is “Coming Up”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 33 cadets enrolled in the ROTC program at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) completed a successful Field Training Exercise (FTX) in late November that included practice military maneuvers and training activities staged at Veterans Stadium as well as the ASCC campus. “The FTX puts the classroom experience to the test in the field,” said ASCC ROTC instructor Kitzingen Moliga. “We evaluate leadership dimensions by applying tactics, team building exercises, planning, mission analysis, physical training, and mental challenges. These remain the cornerstones of our mission.”
The recent FTX represented another step in the revitalization of ASCC’s ROTC program, which for several semesters saw enrollment numbers decline as a result of ASCC re-aligning the pre-requisites for its college-level courses (numbered 100 and above). With the hurdles that made it difficult for interested students to take ROTC now either resolved or under review, spring 2018 saw a significant increase in the number of new cadets in the program, followed by another increase in the just-completed fall semester.
“ASCC ROTC is slowly coming up,” said Moliga, “But we need more recruits as well as the community’s support. That’s why we’re trying to make the public more aware of the advantages of taking ROTC for any students interested in a military career.
“It’s true that any student can easily sign up with the Army as an enlisted man or woman, but if they take the ROTC route they can also graduate from college with a four-year degree and a commission as an officer.”
According to Moliga, for students and parents to better understand the benefits of ROTC, they need to be aware of what the US military looks at when it considers giving its members promotions.
“Becoming an enlisted man or woman is simply a matter of signing up with the nearest recruiter,” he explained, “but to qualify to move up within the ranks of the military, and especially to become an Officer, an individual has to have taken ROTC, attended a military academy or gone to Officer Candidate School. If you’re satisfied with just enlisted man’s pay, then you can get that fairly easily, but to ascend to the levels with the higher salary and prestige, you need the kind of detailed training available from ROTC.”
The acronym ROTC stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps, and the goal of the program is to qualify cadets to receive an ROTC “contract” or scholarship program that can last two, three or four years as a student continues advanced training off-island towards becoming a commissioned officer.
“We’re proud to have contracted three ASCC students last semester,” said Moliga, referring to Cadet Sunia, Cadet Acosta, and Cadet Kwon who are now contracted cadets with the ROTC program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Still, abundant resources remain available for additional cadets willing to put in the work to qualify for a contract. “Our program scholarship budget throughout University of Hawaii and its partner schools, including ASCC, has an annual budget of $1.2 million dollars for scholarships alone,” he explained, “and lately we haven’t even put a dent in it.”
The ASCC ROTC instructors, Kit Moliga and MSG. Jacey Callahan, can also be reached at 733-8710 or 256-8269.