AFROTC program expands with Augustana

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The AFROTC program at SDSU continues to expand as Augustana College becomes a part of their cross-town universities.

In the fall semester of 2009, Augustana will become a part of the SDSU Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) program.

SDSU’s President David Chicoine and Augustana’s President Robert Oliver will have a joint signing on Feb. 5 at Augustana in Sioux Falls, followed by a luncheon.

“The ROTC is open to any and all students,” said Lt. Col. Pete Nielsen, commander of AFROTC Detachment 780 and professor of aerospace studies. “Its primary goal is a four-year program to recruit, train and commission second lieutenants into the United States Air Force.

“There are 144 host ROTC units and about 1,000 cross-town universities that feed into the hosts,” he said.

SDSU is a detachment host for Dakota State University, as well. The ROTC courses offered to students can be used for social sciences fulfillment credits and are tuition-free to all students, regardless of their major.

The ROTC program usually lasts two-and-a-half to four years. The first two are general military courses that are each worth one credit.

After the first two years, students then compete for college scholarships that pay tuition and fees, and those students with scholarships are contracted and given the enlisted oath.

“What that basically is is a promise to continue school, meet our requirements and commission when they say they will. It’s also our promise to them that they will get a second lieutenant rank and serve in the Air Force,” said Nielsen.

Those who are not on scholarship for the first two years are free to come and go if they wish.

ROTC students who are and are not on scholarship all serve at least four years in the air force. Jobs that require more time served are those that fly, such as navigators, air battle managers and pilots.

It takes 10 years of training and one year to get “wings” for a pilot, equaling 11 years that they are required to serve in the Air Force.

“Pilot training is intensively expensive for the government. It costs about $2 million to get a pilot candidate through,” said Nielsen. “So ‘Uncle Sam’ does expect a little more time in return, but it’s a good deal if you’re on scholarship.”

Currently, there are 52 students in the SDSU ROTC program and all of the upperclassmen are on scholarship.

For more information on the AFROTC program visit their Web site at or call their office in DePuy Military Hall at (605) 688-6106.