Q&A: Air Force ROTC prepares for take-off at Yale

Yale announced in September that an Air Force ROTC detachment (AFROTC) would be established at the University, making it one of two ROTC units to open on campus in the fall of 2012. (The other is affiliated with the U.S. Navy.) YaleNews recently spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Theodore G. Weibel, commander of the Yale AFROTC Detachment 009, about the new program.

When will AFROTC activities start at Yale? 

The first semester of full operations on campus will be the fall 2012 semester, but several Air Force officers are already on site, working out of new offices at 55 Whitney Ave.

What are the elements of the program?

The program is built around three major aspects:  academics, leadership development, and physical training.  Academic classes will be taught weekly, with different offerings for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Course topics include everything from aviation history to international affairs. A leadership lab is held once a week for two hours; this is where cadets in the upper classes teach lower cadets in the lower classes basic military fundamentals under the supervision of a faculty member.

Finally, physical training is required three times a week for one hour.  Usually two sessions will be dedicated to conditioning and the third to team sports. 

What is the time commitment for AFROTC?

In all, cadets can expect to dedicate six to eight hours a week to the program.

What about summers?

Currently, the only required summer commitment is a four-week Field Training Session between the sophomore and junior year. There are options for ROTC involvement during other summers, which include Department of Defense or industry-sponsored internships, base visits, aviation programs, and trips abroad.

Who teaches the AFROTC courses? 

All courses are taught by Air Force officers who have been appointed as non-ladder members of the Yale faculty. The one exception is the 200 level course, which will be taught by Professor Paul Kennedy. This is unique to Yale College. This will be a prerequisite for the follow-up 200 level spring course (currently under development) that will be jointly taught by Yale and U.S. Air Force faculty. 

Are AFROTC courses open to students who do not enroll in the ROTC program?

Yes, all AFROTC courses are open to any student; you do not have to be a cadet to enroll.

How much does the program cost? 

Nothing. All uniforms, textbooks, supplies, etc. are provided by the Air Force. Also, scholarships (tuition, fees, and books) and stipends are available in full or in part, depending on qualifications and other factors.

How does AFROTC differ from other extracurricular activities on campus? 

From the perspective of a time commitment, it is very similar. However, most extracurricular activities do not carry forward into your career after graduation. AFROTC takes a building-block approach to develop you into an Air Force officer. Further, AFROTC spans academics, athletics, and the practical leadership lab. 

What is the requirement for service after graduation?

The basic active duty commitment is four years, but that varies depending on your chosen field. Many career options are available across various disciplines to include medicine, law, and operations. The most commonly sought after are pilot, combat system operator, intelligence officer, and engineer. Many cadets opt to defer entry into active duty and pursue a master’s degree as well. 

Where can a student get additional information?

The AFROTC office is located in Suite 450 at 55 Whitney Ave. We are available to discuss any aspect of the program with interested students, faculty, and anyone else wanting to be involved. Walk-ins are welcome, or an appointment can be made by calling 203-432-9431 or emailing airforce@yale.edu.