Army ROTC Instructor Required Cadets To Recruit Others As Part Of Their Grade

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:
  • An Army ROTC professor told the battalion under his command they would be graded on their ability to refer civilians to recruiters, potentially impacting their college grades, according to a screenshot of the message verified by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • The cadet referral program was intended to help boost lagging recruitment numbers and is completely voluntary, a Cadet Command spokesperson told the DCNF.
  • “Once notified of the improper information being distributed to Cadets, we addressed it with the appropriate chain of command to ensure they received the correct information,” the spokesperson said.

A U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) instructor told a cadet battalion they would be required to recruit others into the Army as a graded component of their ROTC courses, according to a screenshot of the message viewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC) Enlisted Referral Program was implemented in February in response to unrelenting recruiting struggles and offered Army soldiers and cadets rewards if they made successful referrals, Lt. Col. Nichole Downs, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Cadet Command, which heads ROTC programs, told the DCNF. But the program exists on a voluntary basis, and none of the rewards were meant to bear any consequence on a cadet’s letter grade in ROTC courses or overall college Grade Point Average (GPA), contradicting the military professor’s message.

The command is addressing the situation to ensure cadets receive appropriate guidance about the program, Downs told the DCNF.

“Battalion, as may of you know, the Army has struggled to meet its manning mission for the last several years and continues to struggle this year,” the battalion’s military science professor (PMS) wrote to cadets at the school in a message confirmed by the DCNF.

After describing incentives outlined in the USACC Referral Program, the PMS added additional requirements:

“Enlisted referrals will be a requirement in every Army ROTC class next semester and will count towards a grade as part of each syllabi. Get this requirement done now over the summer so you can get it off your plate or start racking them up now to earn some of these incentives!” the instructor wrote. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Amid Recruiting Woes, Officers Allege The Army Is Preventing Their Scheduled Discharge)

ROTC courses are generally electives and are considered standard college classes, meaning the grade obtained in ROTC classes will have an impact on cadets’ overall college GPAs.

However, the PMS placed instructions on how to refer an individual beneath the information about course requirements for referral, appearing to include referrals as a graded course requirement.

The USACC Enlisted Referral Program “is a completely voluntary program created by the Command to support Army enlisted recruiting efforts,” Downs told the DCNF. “Cadets don’t have to participate, and it doesn’t hurt them if they don’t participate.”

“Once notified of the improper information being distributed to Cadets, we addressed it with the appropriate chain of command to ensure they received the correct information,” Downs added.

To make a successful referral, cadets can share a special QR code that sends the referral target to an online form. There, the potential recruit inputs their information and identification of the soldier who referred them for follow-up with an Army recruiter. Filling out the form does not obligate the individual to enlist, the form shows.

The base program spins off the Army Soldier Referral Program implemented in January, which hands out promotions and decorations to junior soldiers who convince a contact to enlist in the Army, according to a press release. Army officials said the program presented an opportunity to reward soldiers for the work they already do in encouraging others to join the force, but it came in the midst of a historic recruiting crisis.

The Army fell 15,000 recruits short of its 60,000 objective for fiscal year 2022. Now, following numerous initiatives and programs aimed at boosting recruitment numbers, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth conceded in March the service will miss an ambitious 65,000 goal for fiscal year 2023 to the order of thousands.

USACC expanded the referral program to Army ROTC cadets, but with differing incentives, according to a graphic posted on USACC social media accounts. Those include an early start to becoming a recruiting officer, an edge in getting a desired occupational specialty upon graduation and guaranteed spots in advanced Army warfare schools.

Only cadets whose referrals ship out to basic training are eligible to earn some program incentives, including the Army Recruiting Ribbon, the graphic shows.

“We have added nothing to it, we have taken nothing away,” Downs said, referring to the graphic.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact