FORT KNOX, KY—This year at Cadet Summer Training (CST) Commanding General Christopher Hughes has reinstated mandatory Cadet evaluations. These evaluations are given on blue cards.

What is a blue card?

A blue card is a card given to cadre members for evaluation of a Cadet. The card has multiple sections for comments to be written.

The first section is background. This section gives background to the circumstances the Cadet was given, their leadership position, and any behaviors that are monitored. Cadre members encouraged to elaborate on the behaviors and the context in which they saw the behaviors. Then there are sections for strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations.

The final section is an overall summary. Once the card is given to the Cadet, they are given a chance to talk about and show their perspective of their choices and then more notes can be added based on the Cadet’s explanation.

“The cards are meant to hold Cadets accountable for the information and materials they are being taught out here at CST,” clarifies Capt. Elliot Emerich, Platoon Training Officer for CST, Professor of Military Science, Georgetown University.

A cadre member takes a few moments to fill out a blue card on the Cadet leadership roles for evaluations, and feedback. August 4, Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Amber Vincent)

How does it work? 

The blue cards have a little bit of leeway as to how they work. It is up to each Platoon Training Officer how they wish to do the blue cards. However, each Cadet has to receive a minimum of two cards in the field and two during Garrison training events.

“What I’ve done is made it an overall evaluation. You’re constantly being evaluated in my platoon,” said Emerich.

Capt. Emerich further explained how he writes his blue cards. For him, there are two parts to the evaluation. The first is individual feedback. He gives each Cadet in his platoon an initial, a mid-cycle, and a final evaluation. The second part is counseling based on leadership roles. In Emerich’s platoon, a Cadet’s leadership is not only assessed in an assigned role, but also their character, attributes, and their leadership competencies up to that point and after they move roles.

“A Cadet can be in a leadership role and really shine. But I want to see how they do afterwards,” said Emerich. “Do they go back into the platoon as a member of the team and still add value or do they fizzle out? The cards ensure that Cadets are adhering to their own self-learning but also that they’re able to work in a team.”

What happens to a blue card after CST?

A cadre member takes a few moments to fill out a blue card on the Cadet leadership roles for evaluations, and feedback. August 4, Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Amber Vincent)

Once a Cadet graduates from Advanced Camp, all of their evaluations are packaged up for them and sent back to their university. This pack includes all of their evaluations from cadre members, leadership counselings, and peer reviews. These packets go to the Professors of Military Science at the Cadet’s university and they then read all the evaluations and determine what leadership role a Cadet should be placed in for their senior year in the ROTC program.

Also included in the packet is a copy of the Advanced Camp Graduation Report. This report plays a major role in determining a Cadet’s ranking on the National Officer Merit List.

“Based on their ranking on the Merit list, a Cadet will be given a branch, component and a duty station for when they commission as a 2nd Lt.,” said Emerich.

Overall, bringing back blue cards has been well received by both cadre members and Cadets.

“We’re creating more well-rounded future officers. Camp has changed a whole lot for the better,” said Emerich.