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Traditionally, Cadets progress through the Army ROTC program taking both the Basic Courses (Military Science Levels I and II) and Advanced Courses (Military Science Levels III and IV) along the way; each are required to commission into the Army as a 2nd Lt. 

However, many Cadets do not enter their ROTC program at the start of their freshman year.  So what if you join Army ROTC late? How do you catch up? Well, that is where the Lateral Entry option is introduced.

Lateral Entry is any other way for Cadets to earn Basic Course credit if they did not enter their college or university’s Army ROTC program at the start of their freshman year.

“If you were to join late, like I did, . . . Lateral Entry is just to speed you up on the courtesies, customs, drill and ceremony, and rank structure, in order to help you understand the military world better,” said 2 Lt. Shamon Nettles, a recent graduate from Austin Peay State University.

Cadet Richard Camp is a Lateral Entry Cadet from Ohio State University. Camp is part of the 1st Regiment of Advanced Camp. May 23, 2021 at Fort Knox, KY. | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

Cadet Richard Camp, a junior at Ohio State University, said “There’s plenty of opportunities. You can really join [Army ROTC] at any time and it’s probably going to make you a little uncomfortable, but the best thing you can do is really expose yourself to those new experiences… push yourself into those unfamiliar settings and you are going to find success.”

Cadet Camp is part of the first regiment attending Advanced Camp, Cadet Summer Training (CST) 2021, thanks to the Lateral Entry program at his university.

There are several options for Cadets to receive some of that Basic Course credit, including participation in Junior ROTC while in high school, prior attendance at a Service Academy, completion of Basic Training and prior service, or, the most common, completion of Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Ky. 

Nettles said, “Basic Camp is there to give you all the information you would have gotten if you were an incoming freshman.”

Col. Scott E. Sonsalla, Director of Recruiting, Marketing, and Incentives for US Army Cadet Command, describes Basic Camp as a “test run of the Army.”

2nd Lt. Shamon Nettles was a Lateral Entry Cadet who attended Basic Camp his sophmore year. Nettles recently graduated from Austin Peay University. Fort Knox, KY. May 19, 2021. | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

Basic Camp is a 3 to 4 week training event consisting of various leadership development courses, weapons training, field training, and invaluable feedback from instructors and Cadet leaders. 

One of the many events that Cadets will complete at Basic Camp is the Confidence Course.

Nettles, who completed Basic Camp his sophomore year described the course as, “…lots of fun. You get to climb ropes and climb logs about 50 to 100 feet tall . . . It’s great for building cohesion and comradery.”

3rd Regiment, Basic Camp Cadets completed the High Ropes Confidence Course July 10, 2019 during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, KY. | Photo by Madison Thompson, CST Public Affairs Office

According to Sonsalla, about 70% of lateral entry cadets who attend Basic Camp will contract when they return to their college or university’s Army ROTC program, often earning campus based scholarships as well. 

Basic Camp is more than just a training event that introduces students to the Army, it fulfills the first two years of Basic Course credit and is a path that sets Cadets up for success.