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New Mexico State University

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NMSU department head dives in to ROTC cadets’ leadership training

The head of the Criminal Justice Department at New Mexico State University joined NMSU ROTC cadets in leadership training over the summer, which included a sky dive, with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights.


Two men skydiving
Dennis Giever, in yellow, jumping with tandem partner. (Courtesy photo.)

Dennis Giever flew to Kentucky in June to participate in trainings with ROTC cadets, as well as a tandem parachute with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army’s aerial parachute demonstration team.

“The ROTC students go to this advanced leadership training every summer as part of their commitment to the ROTC,” Giever said. “I was asked to go because the Criminal Justice Department at NMSU has one of the highest percentages of ROTC cadets.”

Because of this, Giever’s department is considered a “center of influence,” and Giever was invited to the summer leadership camp to get a better understanding of the training the cadets receive.

“All cadets are eligible to attend basic camp, which is an abbreviated format of basic training enlisted soldiers attend,” said Lt. Col. Wes Childs, commander of the NMSU Army ROTC’s Bataan Battalion. “All cadets must attend one form or another of summer camp. The only camp that is mandatory however is Advanced Camp. All cadets must attend and pass this training to be able to commission. They usually do this in the summer between their junior and senior year. This camp focuses on leadership development. They must demonstrate mastery of skills like land navigation and rifle marksmanship.”

“In addition to the sky dive, we also participated in some of the obstacle courses the cadets run, and the ropes training, where you climb 50 or 60 feet, which is a training to build trust in leadership,” Giever said.

A total of 50 representatives from other centers of influence throughout the country—university departments that have large concentrations of ROTC cadets—attended the Cadet Leadership Training event. Of those 50, 15 were selected to sky dive with the Golden Knights.

Fort Knox, where the jumps usually occur, wasn’t available, so the jumps took place over a private airspace in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

“We went up in groups of three,” Giever said. “So one group would go up, jump, then the Golden Knights would land, repack the chutes, then take the next group up.”

Giever said he wasn’t apprehensive about jumping, mostly because the Golden Knights talked him through it and didn’t let him worry about it.

“I’m a pilot, so I’m used to being in the air, but I’ve never needed to jump out of a plane before,” Giever said. “The Golden Knights talked to me the whole time. My jumping partner had jumped something like 4,600 times before, so it was routine for him but he was still able to talk to me to get pumped up and excited.”

Giever said the experience was constructive in gaining more appreciation and respect for ROTC students.

“These ROTC students are some of the best, academically, largely because they go through this type of training in order to become officers in the Army,” Giever said. “Whenever I give group assignments to my students, the ROTC students naturally become the leaders of that group because of this training. I have tons of respect for them.”

“These camps can forever change a cadet,” said Childs. “Many emerge from the training more disciplined, confident, and capable both as leaders and as students. By faculty taking part, the cadets can find potential mentors. And both faculty and the cadets become ambassadors for ROTC, and both can give accurate information to others who may be interested in signing up for ROTC but want an accurate idea of what to expect. An informed applicant, in most cases, becomes a committed participant. Commitment is ultimately what we are looking for in a potential cadet.”