Upon entry into the NROTC program, students are designated “midshipmen” and assigned to a squad and platoon within the NROTC Battalion. It is here that they learn basic military skills such as close order drill, time management, leadership, and the use of a chain of command.
Almost immediately, midshipmen are given responsibilities within the platoon and within a year, will have held a leadership or collateral billet within that platoon. The program curriculum is also designed to teach the midshipmen the Navy Core Values of honor, courage, and commitment.
Midshipmen are afforded the opportunity to participate in many of the social traditions of the Navy and Marine Corps. These events include the Navy and Marine Corps Birthday Ball, Senior Dining In, Dining Out, awards ceremonies, and commissionings. In addition to their regular class load, midshipmen are required to take at least one naval science class per semester, wear their uniforms two days per week, participate in naval science lab and drill periods, and participate in a one hour session of physical training, three days a week. The additional time required for participation in NROTC is approximately 8-10 hours per week.
Participation in NROTC offers a variety of extracurricular social and athletic activities. In addition to the various professional societies and clubs, the NROTC Unit is also very competitive in the Universities’ intramural program which involves such sports as flag football and softball. Midshipmen are very active in the community, participating in Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity and other service projects. The ISU NROTC Color Guard marches in local parades and ceremonies as well as at ISU home football and basketball games.
In addition to the coursework required by individual degree programs, NROTC battalion members are required to complete various courses in Naval Science including:
- NS 111 — Introduction to Naval Science
- NS 212 — Sea Power and Maritime Affairs
- NS 220 — Leadership and Management
- NS 230 — Navigation
- NS 320 — Naval Ship Systems I (Engineering)
- NS 321 — Evolution of Warfare
- NS 330 — Naval Ship Systems II (Weapons Systems)
- NS 410 — Naval Operations and Seamanship
- NS 412 — Leadership and Ethics
- NS 421 — Evolution of Amphibious Warfare
- NS 440 — Senior Naval Science Seminar
All of these courses are designed to provide prospective naval officers with a fundamental understanding of the roles and missions of the modern Navy/Marine Corps team.
Naval Science (NS) courses cover a wide variety of subjects from navigation to leadership and ethics. All courses are approved university courses and are considered electives in all degree programs. The Professor of Naval Science is the Commanding Officer, who is ultimately responsible for the administration of the courses. NS courses are taught by the members of the unit staff in the Armory. Midshipmen usually take one Naval Science (NS) course per semester, and not all courses are required for graduation.
The ISU NROTC Cyclone Battalion is organized into one company: Alpha Company. This company is then divided into three platoons. 1st and 2nd platoon are composed of Navy options, while marine options are assigned to 3rd platoon. Each platoon is designated by its company letter, and platoon number (e.g. A-1, A-2, etc.) Each platoon is further divided into three squads. When a midshipman is first assigned to a company they will more than likely spend their entire NROTC career with that company. They will be given various leadership positions within that company and may eventually be selected to serve on the Battalion Staff. Staying within the same company builds esprit d’corp, the hallmark of a cohesive unit. This also gives them the opportunity to see as many leadership styles as possible as well as learn from their experiences in leadership positions.
The battalion chain of command is structured much like a traditional Navy/Marine Corps command. At the top is the Battalion Commander (BNCO). The BNCO has a Battalion Executive Officer (BNXO) who is responsible for overseeing the administrative aspects of the command and a Battalion Sergeant Major (BNSGTMAJ)/ Command Master Chief (BNCMC), who is responsible for unit discipline, PT, and close order drill. The BNCO also has a variety of battalion staff officers at his or her disposal to assist in the smooth operation of the unit.
Each company has a Company Commander who oversees the operation of their company. Within each platoon there is a Platoon Commander (PC). The Platoon Commander is assisted by a Platoon Sergeant/Chief who is responsible for the conduct of the platoon and for organizing and conducting drill practice. Each squad within the platoon is assigned a Squad Leader (SL) who is the first link in a Midshipman’s chain of command.
The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) was first established in 1926 to offer college students the necessary naval science courses required to qualify them for commissions in the Naval Reserve. NROTC Units were established in six universities.
Throughout the years preceding World War II, the program was expanded to include additional universities and colleges. During the course of World War II, the Navy expanded from a force of 100,000 to over 3.5 million, becoming the world’s leading sea power, and the requirement for a large regular officer corps became apparent. As a result, the mission of NROTC was greatly increased.
The NROTC Unit at the Iowa State University has a long and proud history, originating from the Navy V-12 educational program developed and implemented in the early to mid-1940′s. During World War II, the Navy had a need to provide technical education to many of its personnel. The V-12 Program was designed to train enlisted personnel in specialized and technical areas such as electrician and diesel mechanics. The V-12 Program was designed to prepare large numbers of men for the Navy’s officer Candidate Schools and to increase the war-depleted students bodies of many campuses.
The Department of the Navy’s decision to approve the application request for a NROTC Unit at ISU was probably the result of the University’s reputation for one of the most successful V-12 Programs in the country. A bronze commemorative award, engraved with the Secretary of the Navy’s name and presented to the University for its commendable performance in training young men during W.W.II, is still on display in the NROTC Unit. During WWI, the V-12 unit at ISU trained thousands of Amphibious Fireman, Cooks & Bakers, Diesel Mechanics, and Electricians.
The NROTC unit at Iowa State takes pride in producing positive, well-trained and educated, and career minded junior officers for the Navy and the Marine Corps. Since 1945, ISU has turned out hundreds of such young men and women who have gone on to make careers in the United State Navy and United State Marine Corps or have successfully pursued a career in the civilian world.