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UNG military program sees rise in cadet enrollment
Future military men and women graded on three-point scale
Cadet Andrew Friesen, right, coaxes more push-ups from a FROG during the day 5 of physical activities at Pine Valley.

North Georgia is home to another esteemed military school, only it’s for college-age men and women.

The University of North Georgia is designated the Military College of Georgia by state legislature because of its extensive Corps of Cadets and ROTC program. It is one of only six senior military colleges in the country, the others being Norwich University, Texas A&M University, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech.

Recently, the program swelled to a record high of more than 800 cadets, with the addition of 268 recruits this semester. Since 2006, the corps has almost doubled in size. And with an average 1106 SAT score and a 3.3 average GPA among freshmen, the corps is attracting more qualified recruits as well.

“Quality and quantity usually work inversely,” Corps Commandant Col. James Palmer said. “When you are trying to increase recruits, you usually lower standards; we didn’t do that, instead we raised the bar.”

During their time at the school, each cadet undergoes extensive training, physically, tactically and academically. It is designed to prepare them for an officer’s commission into the Army.

“It is a rigorous training schedule,” Corps instructor Maj. Jonathan Edwards said. “They learn leadership, understanding priorities and time management.

“They gain a greater appreciation for military service as a whole, how we fit into the world and why having a standing military is important.”

The corps recently sent 67 cadets to the U.S. Army’s annual Leadership Development and Assessment Course, where they outperformed the nation’s other senior military colleges.

Every cadet who is commissioned into the Army is required to participate in the LDAC, which is the ROTC’s capstone training and assessment exercise. At the end of the event, each cadet receives a rating of “excellent,” “satisfactory” or “nonsatisfactory” based on his or her performance. Almost 27 percent of UNG cadets received a score of excellent, a 50 percent increase over last year.

“For Army ROTC, that is the playoffs,” Maj. Edwards said. “Every college comes to the table with their best and they all extensively train for the exercise.”

UNG runs a fall and spring semesters-long training regiment to prepare cadets in their junior year for the event. It includes an additional five hours of physical training a week, on top of the three hours required of every cadet, and a weekly special military sciences lab designed specifically to prepare for the LDAC. The goal is not to just do well, but to place first, Maj. Edwards said.

“There is fierce competition among the senior military colleges at LDAC,” Palmers said. “We have a great tradition of excellence there, and we expect our students to excel, which they always do.”

Veterans Day is an important time of the year for the corps. All uniformed staff members of the Commandant’s office are veterans and many military science teachers are actively serving in the military.

“I love seeing the cadets every day, because I know they are entering a very rewarding career,” Col. Palmer said. “They will be the military leaders and veterans of the future.”

In honor of Veterans Day, UNG will host a military review at 4 p.m. Monday on the Gen. William “Lipp” Livsey Drill Field at the school’s campus in Dahlonega.

The event will include a review of the university’s Corps of Cadets, a drill exhibition by the Blue Ridge Rifles Precision Drill Team, a performance by the Golden Eagle Band and the Patriot Choir singing the National Anthem. The Blue Ridge Rifles and the Color Guard also will participate at Lumpkin County High School on Monday morning.