Valley Forge Military College Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) offers a unique and challenging accelerated leadership path called the Early Commissioning Program (ECP). The program at Valley Forge is one of only five out of the 272 ROTC detachments at colleges and universities across the Nation and the only such program in the northeast United States. Successful completion of the program results in VFMC graduates earning commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army in two years rather than four as is the case with ROTC programs at other colleges and universities.
In order to be eligible for the program, prospective cadets must have a cumulative high school grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, must have a combined math and verbal score of at least 850 on the SAT or 17 on the ACT, must pass a Department of Defense medical exam, must be at least 17 years of age, and must be a U.S. citizen of good moral character. Prospective cadets interested in an Army scholarship must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and an SAT score of 920 or an ACT score of 19.
Prospective cadets must complete specific military training prior to entering the ECP at Valley Forge. Most cadets attend the four-week Leaders Training Course (LTC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky during the summer before they arrive at Valley Forge. Soldiers who have completed Basic Combat Training are pre-qualified and need not attend LTC.
ECP cadets undergo a rigorous course of instruction during their two years at Valley Forge. In addition to their regular academic course schedule, cadets take a Military Science and Leadership (MSL) course each semester. The MSL curriculum consists of classroom instruction, a weekly leadership lab, physical training conducted Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 0530, and weekend training conducted three times per semester. Weekend training typically takes the form of land navigation, rifle marksmanship, and small unit tactics and is usually conducted at Fort Dix, New Jersey or Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
During the summer between their freshman and sophomore years at Valley Forge, cadets attend the five-week Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington. In addition, cadets may compete for and attend the Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia or the Air Assault Course at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, or may spend several weeks with an active duty Army unit in what is called Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT). Following summer training, cadets return to Valley Forge where they assume an active role in training new ECP cadets and in the operations of the ROTC battalion.
In addition to required training, cadets may participate in optional training. The Ranger Challenge team competes annually – and very successfully — against teams from the other colleges and universities in the 3d Brigade.
In order to be eligible for commissioning, cadets must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA and graduate with an associate’s degree, must pass all MSL courses with a cumulative MSL GPA of 2.0, must complete LDAC, must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and the Combat Water Survival Test (CWST), and must pass a military history course.
Upon graduation from Valley Forge, the newly-commissioned second lieutenants will serve in National Guard or Army Reserve units as platoon leaders while they complete their bachelor’s degrees at colleges and universities around the Nation. As they complete their bachelor’s degrees, they may compete for active-duty positions or remain in their Reserve Component units. Either way, these lieutenants are serving as commissioned officers in the U.S. Army across the country, around the world, and, in some cases, in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ECP cadets at Valley Forge are, without a doubt, the best in the Corps of Cadets. Many hold leadership positions, including Regimental Executive Officer, Infantry Battalion Commander, and Regimental Sergeant Major. In addition, many cadets are company commanders, platoon leaders, first sergeants, platoon sergeants, and squad leaders. Academically, ECP cadets are out front, as well. ECP graduates can be found throughout the U.S. Army, leading American soldiers and representing Valley Forge.