NATCHITOCHES – New leadership in Northwestern State University’s Department of Military Science has set recruiting for the program as a top priority in the hopes of growing the number of ROTC cadets to at least 100 and training them to become the nation’s future leaders.
“We are open for any student who is interested in the program,” said LTC Josh Drake. “People may think when they join ROTC they are signing up for something they can’t get out of. Whether you stick with the program or not, give it a shot. Even if you don’t commission, maybe you will change in a good way.”
Scholarships are available for ROTC cadets, which can be applied to both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
“The biggest challenge with recruiting has been the online and hybrid classes,” Drake said. “Military science is interactive, and you can’t commission someone virtually because they will not be ready.”
In additional to recruiting traditional students, Drake hopes to attract soldiers from the National Guard and Army Reserves who could continue to drill with their units while earning a commission as an officer. He will also target active duty soldiers at Fort Polk who may be interested in becoming officers through the Green to Gold program.
His priority after recruiting will be marketing and branding the program and increased visibility.
Drake comes to NSU from Fort Polk where he was observer, coach, trainer and Brigade S3 in the Operations Group, Joint Readiness Training Center. In the course of his career he served in many leadership positions beginning with Rifle Platoon Leader, Scout Platoon Leader and Rifle Company Executive Officer in 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia; Basic Training Company Commander, 1st Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia; Rifle and HHC Company Commander, 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
He previously served as assistant professor of military science at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and also as Operations Officer, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment and Executive Officer, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk. He completed four combat deployments to Iraq in 2007 and 2012, Afghanistan in 2013 and Syria in 2018.
Drake is a native of Lakeland, Florida, and commissioned as an infantry officer in 2005 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School at Fort Benning prior to his first duty assignment. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Webster University and completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Maneuver Captain’s Career Course and Command and General Staff College.
Another of Drake’s goals in growing the program is to increase training opportunities for cadets and field a Ranger Challenge team, in which cadets compete with other programs in non-tactical events that challenge their physical and mental toughness. The program has not fielded a Ranger Challenge team in 4 years. He also plans to strengthen the relationship between the program and the Northwestern Demon Regiment, the program’s alumni organization, to make them more a part of the organization.
“We want to show them appreciation and make them more a part of the program,” Drake said. “It shows cadets that one day they will have an opportunity to give back as alumni.”
He would also like to build better relationships with NSU faculty and staff and participate in projects or team-building events.
“We work for the Army, but we also work for the school,” he said.
Students who participate in ROTC can expect to take basic military science courses in their first year in which they learn the professional aspects of being an Army officer, military rank and how to drill and participate in ceremonies. Second-year students begin working on and learning tactics. Third year cadet lead the first- and second-year activities and fourth-year cadets focus on officership.
“I love seeing a change in them,” Drake said. “I love seeing the transformation from civilian to military officer. They change both mentally and physically and learn the Army culture. They learn it, accept it and live it.”
Drake and his wife Brittany have two daughters, ages 12 and 10, who attend NSU Elementary and Middle Lab Schools. The family enjoys traveling, visiting the beach, camping, and fishing. They are renovating a home on Cane River.
Information on NSU’s ROTC program is available at https://rotc.nsula.edu/.