UT ROTC program named best in region

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The Army named the University’s ROTC program as the best battalion in its region, which is composed of eight states in the Southwest.

The region — which includes Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma — contains a total of 36 collegiate ROTC programs and is overseen by the 5th ROTC Brigade of the U.S. Army. A committee is established within the brigade to help analyze which programs are worthy of the award, and Col. Ricardo Morales made the final decision.

Brigade Deputy Commander Steven Van Straten said fitness tests, Army potential, the quality and number of cadets produced and the relations between the programs and their universities are all taken into account when making the decision.

“We look at some concrete data in the form of metrics, in how the cadets fare and what kind of officers are coming out of the program,” Van Straten said. “There are a lot of different metrics used to assess cadet quality. … In all those regards, when looking at it holistically, [UT] did a fantastic job.”

Travis Habhab, lieutenant colonel and military science department chair, said he believes the award helps recognize not only the support the program receives from the community but the hard work that its members put in throughout the year.

“We’re extremely honored to have the award because there are so many other good schools,” Habhab said. “What’s put us over the top is the way our cadets — seniors in particular — have performed this year.”

The ROTC program, which is in the College of Liberal Arts, trains cadets to have the opportunity to become commissioned officers after graduation. The program includes students from a number of colleges in Austin, such as UT, St. Edward’s University and Hutson-Tillotson University.

Peter Seidule, ROTC public affairs officer and history senior, said the award highlights the improvements the battalion has seen over the years. “It’s great to see us on that list,” Seidule said. “Historically, especially in the last 10 years, UT hasn’t been famous as far as ROTC. This is something we’ve really tried to build on. These cadets have put in a lot of time, and it’s paid off.”