Army JROTC: What it is and How it Works

It is a program that has been in place for many years. The United States Army, and other military branches have gained magnificent leaders from this program. JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. In today’s post, we are going to examine the Army JROTC and explain what it is and how it works.

JROTC History

In 1916, the National Defense Act was passed and part of that Act was the creation of the Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. The Act created a system in which the Federal Government would loan high schools military equipment, and also assign active duty personnel as educators.

The system worked well, and many leaders were bred into the Army lifestyle while they were still in school. In 1964, the ROTC Vitalization Act created some changes in the JROTC system. First, JROTC was now open to the other branches of the armed forces, and secondly, instead of utilizing active duty personnel, the instructors would now be retired members of the armed forces. The pay of these instructors would be split between the Federal Government and the school they taught in.

Up until approximately 2013, JROTC was used primarily as a source of recruitment. Because of controversy and opposition of the program by groups such as:

  • The War Resisters League

  • The American Friends Service Committee

  • Veterans For Peace

  • and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

the military reiterated and strengthened the code that pertained to the JROTC program that it was not to be used as a recruitment tool.

What It Is

The purpose of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps is the process of instilling the values of citizenship, personal responsibility, service to the United States and her citizens and a sense of accomplishment in students within U.S. secondary educational institutions. The core of JROTC involves teaching:

  • life skills

  • morals and ethics

  • leadership skills

  • citizenship

  • communications

  • and much more.

The educators who work in these schools in the JROTC program are normally retired Army officers. They do not necessarily have to have teaching credentials in many States, but some States do require it.

JROTC maintains a system of training these students in ways so they can serve the country as leaders, citizens and as military personnel if they decide to enter the armed forces.

JROTC is not meant to be used as a recruiting tool, but the system does inform all the students about their military opportunities. The instructors do emphasize service in the United States Army and will assist cadets who show a desire to join the Army.

While there are those who disagree with the JROTC program, I want to say that in this world full of crime, drugs and other things that mislead these kids, the JROTC program has brought these kids into a pattern that is safer for them and creates leadership for the country’s future. JROTC is not a bad thing.

How JROTC Works

There are over 1,500 Army JROTC units across the United States. These units use a similar Chain of Command structure as the U.S. Army with companies, battalions and brigades.

In the U.S., JROTC is meant to be an elective course and is normally taken in place of physical education. The program uses a strict military discipline structure. Cadets wear their uniforms up to twice per week. The curriculum focuses on military science and history, but also delves into leadership and other areas. The cadets also have military style extracurricular activities such as:

  • color guard

  • rifle marksmanship

  • drill

  • and more.

Cadets are also involved with multiple community service projects.

Just as in the regular Army, cadets can be awarded many different ribbons and medals. They learn the proper wear of these awards.

Graduating from JROTC does not automatically earn a cadet an officer position in the Army, but it can mean a direct nomination to the service academy. Also, cadets who successfully complete JROTC can expect to have an advanced rank when they do enlist.

If you are searching for schools with a JROTC program, I highly recommend this link. If you are a retired officer, and have considered helping in this program, you can also find information on that process at that same link.

JROTC Cadets Who Served

The statistics show that 30-50% of JROTC cadets end up joining the military. Is that a bad thing? I believe it is much better than having them in prison, on drugs or alcohol, or living an unfruitful life.

Just consider these past JROTC cadets:

  • Brigadier General Thomas White who was Secretary of the Army from 2001 to 2003

  • Specialist Shoshana Johnson was the first female African American prisoner of war ever.

  • Major Alan Rogers who was killed in Iraq.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Emily Perez who was also killed in Iraq.

Army JROTC Ribbons: The Complete List

We are going to go through the complete list of ribbons that Army JROTC cadets can be presented with. This is the complete list, and I will start with the lowest to highest ribbon in order of uniform wear precedence. I will also explain briefly what the ribbon is awarded for.

Excellent Staff Performance

Each year, this ribbon is awarded to cadet staff officers for excellent performance in their duties.

Service Learning

This ribbon is awarded yearly to the cadets who participate in a service learning project. Service learning project consist of a community service project that also coincides with something the cadet has learned in school.

Raider Team Ribbon

This is presented to members of the JROTC Raider Teams. Raider Teams are 8 cadets who, with teamwork compete in challenging events that test their physical and mental fortitude.

Volunteer Service

Awarded to cadets who volunteer for school or community service.

Honor Guard

This ribbon is given to members of the JROTC Honor Guard each year.


Awarded to cadets who recruit a student into the JROTC.


Given to cadets who march in a parade.


Awarded to any cadet who participates in a fundraiser.

Saber Team Ribbon

Annually awarded to saber team members.

Formal Inspection

Awarded to cadets who participate in a formal inspection.


This ribbon is awarded to any cadets who perform a humanitarian act.

JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC)

Awarded to those cadets who attend JCLC summer camp.

Good Conduct

Given to those cadets who demonstrate good conduct in school throughout the year.


When cadets go above and beyond the expectations for their grade.

Adventure Training

This ribbon is awarded to all cadets who complete adventure training.

Rifle Team Ribbon

Awarded each year to cadets who are members of the rifle team.

Color Guard

Given to members of the color guard.

Orienteering Ribbon

This ribbon is given yearly to members of the orienteering team.

Drill Team

Awarded yearly to drill team members.

Proficiency Ribbon

This is awarded to those cadets who demonstrate exceptional duty performance and leadership, and excel in their academic studies.

Appearance Ribbon

Given to cadets who are consistently showing great appearance.

Senior Army Instructor Leadership (SAI)

One cadet from each LET level will be chosen yearly to receive this ribbon for outstanding leadership skills.

Athletic Participation

This ribbon is awarded if a cadet completes all the cadet challenge events.

Athletic Achievement

This ribbon is awarded to cadets who attain 180 points or more on the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Exam).

JROTC Athletics

Given to cadets who get 50-84% in all the cadet challenge events.

JROTC Physical Fitness

This ribbon is given to any cadets who get 85% + in all the cadet challenge events.

Varsity Athletics

Given yearly to any cadets who letter in varsity athletics.

Cadet of the Month

Each month, a cadet who demonstrates exceptional behavior and leadership in each LET level will be given this ribbon.

Cadet of the Year

Similar to Cadet of the Month, this ribbon will be awarded to cadets each year from each LET level.

National Honor Society

This ribbon is given to cadets who are members of the National Honor Society.

Academic Performance Ribbon

Given to cadets who hold a 3.0-3.49 grade point average.

LET Ribbon

Awarded to cadets who successfully complete each LET level.

Student Government

Given to cadets who are elected to a student government position.

Perfect Attendance Ribbon

Given to cadets who have perfect attendance each semester.

Academic Achievement

This ribbon is awarded to cadets who have a semester GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Excellence In Academics

One cadet in each LET level will be awarded this ribbon for excelling in academics.

Distinguished Cadet

One cadet who shows overall excellence in academics.

The Most Prestigious JROTC Ribbons

Courtesy of Trojan Battalion, Ft Carson High School

These next 2 ribbons are considered the most prestigious JROTC ribbons. It is a great honor when any cadet is awarded either of these.

Superior Cadet

Courtesy of Trojan Battalion, Ft Carson High School

Each year the Department of the Army awards this to one outstanding cadet in each LET level.

Medal For Heroism

This top award is given by the Department of the Army to any cadet who performs an act of heroism.

This is the complete list of JROTC ribbons. If you are currently in the JROTC, please tell us the ribbons you have obtained. That also goes for previous members of the JROTC.

You have every right to be proud of your accomplishments. Where those ribbons with pride!

Army JROTC Leadership Positions

The structure of leadership within the Army JROTC is set up similar to the regular United States Army.

Each class is considered a Company.

All classes in one school coming together are considered a Battalion, and when multiple Battalions are within a large event, it becomes a Brigade.

Army JROTC Chain Of Command

Just as in the United States Army, Army JROTC programs follow a Chain Of Command structure.

Information flows down and up through the Chain Of Command.

The Army JROTC Chain Of Command is:

  1. Senior Army Instructor
  2. Army Instructor
  3. Battalion Commander
  4. Executive Officer
  5. Command Sergeant Major
  6. Company Commander
  7. Platoon Leader
  8. Platoon Sergeant
  9. Squad Leader
  10. Individual Cadets

We will look at these positions as well as other leadership positions in the Army JROTC.

Senior Army Instructor

The Senior Army Instructor (SAI) is a retired commissioned officer that retired in the rank of Captain up to Colonel or a Warrant Officer.

The SAI oversees all operations of the Army JROTC at that particular school.

He/she would be like a principle of a school.

Army Instructor

This person is the primary person instructing cadets how the Army system works.

The Army Instructor is a retired non-commissioned officer that retired within the rank of Staff Sergeant up to Command Sergeant Major.

These are the two primary instructors but in some cases, there may be other instructors in some programs.

Battalion Commander

This cadet leadership position holds the most responsibility.

The rank of this cadet would be Lieutenant Colonel.

The instructors will choose the cadet based on both academic abilities and leadership abilities.

This position entails having common sense in problem solving which affects the complete corps.

He/she works directly with instructors to manage a great JROTC program.

Battalion Executive Officer

This cadet supervises and directs Battalion staff to make sure that the Commander’s desires are achieved.

The rank for this position is Major, and the Battalion XO will take command if the Battalion Commander is absent.

Some of the main duties of the Battalion Executive Officer are:

  • Organization of Battalion staff
  • Inspection of Battalion staff work
  • Acting troop commander during ceremonies
  • Perform other duties ordered by Battalion Commander or Instructors

Battalion Command Sergeant Major

This is the senior enlisted cadet and assists the Battalion Commander.

He/she supervises other non-commissioned officers of both the Battalions and Companies.

Some of the main duties of the Command Sergeant Major are:

  • Assist NCOs and the Battalion XO with administrative duties
  • Assumes command of the Battalion if all officers are absent
  • Advises Battalion Commander on all matters pertaining to enlisted cadets
  • Presides over NCO promotion boards
  • Supervises the color guard and all matters relating to the flag
  • Perform other duties ordered by Battalion Commander, Battalion XO or Instructors

Company Commander

Company Commanders are the ones who get stuff done.

The rank of Company Commanders is Captain.

The Company Commander must have initiative and drive, plus be an outstanding leader.

Company Commanders do not wait to be told what to do, they do what they believe is best for the company.

The Company Commander must keep the Battalion Commander informed and he/she is responsible for everything the Company does or doesn’t do.

The main duties of the Company Commander are:

  • Command the company at all formations
  • Takes interest in all cadets and makes them a part of the team
  • Makes sure all company members understand the Chain of Command
  • Conducts inspections and corrections
  • Checks in with instructors daily
  • Executes all orders of Battalion Commander even if in disagreement

Platoon Leader

Platoon Leaders have an excellent position to lead and train cadets.

Platoon Leaders hold the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

They are role models the cadets look up to.

The main duties of Platoon Leaders are:

  • Keeps the Company Commander aware of Platoon status
  • Provides assistance and counseling to Platoon members
  • Conducts Platoon inspections
  • Supervises and conducts Platoon drills
  • Enforces orders from superiors
  • Knows all cadet regulations and sets high standards for self

Platoon Sergeant

The rank of the Platoon Sergeant is Staff Sergeant.

Platoon Sergeants help to supervise Squad leaders, and assists the Platoon Leader in platoon training.

The Platoon Sergeant also takes control of the platoon if the Platoon Leader is absent.

Squad Leader

Squad Leaders set the example as NCOs.

They know the names and personal information of all cadets in their squad.

Squad leaders perform inspections and assist team leaders in every way possible.

That is the Chain of Command

But that does not consist of the complete leadership in Army JROTC.

Here are other leaders you need to be familiar with:

Battalion Adjutant (S-1)

This is the administrative assistant to the Battalion Commander.

Some of their duties are:

  • Assisting in Battalion alignment during formations
  • Makes recommendations to improve morale
  • Plans special ceremonies
  • Submits incident reports to Instructors, Battalion Commander and Battalion XO
  • Prepares and publishes orders
  • Maintains all merit and demerit records
  • Performs other duties ordered by Instructors, Battalion Commander or Battalion XO

Battalion Security Officer (S-2)

Assists the Battalion Commander on unit security.

Some of the duties are:

  • Weapon inspections
  • Make inspections of supply and equipment along with corrections
  • Reports incidents that may affect the units good order

Battalion Training and Operations Officer (S-3)

Just as it says, this individual is in charge of training.

The main duties of the S-3 are:

  • Prepare training schedules
  • Inspect cadet training for compliance
  • Designate cadet training instructors
  • Organize events such as parades and reviews
  • Other duties as ordered by Instructors, Battalion Commander or Battalion XO

Battalion Supply Officer

This individual is responsible for all government property.

Some of their main duties are:

  • Create and maintain JROTC records for clothing and equipment
  • The collection and disposal of salvage goods
  • Conduct inventories
  • Issue clothing, insignia and other supplies
  • Maintain cleaning supplies
  • Maintain security of supply areas
  • Other duties as assigned by instructors, Battalion Commander or Battalion XO

Those are the primary leader positions in JROTC, but in some cases there are special staff officer positions that may include:

  • Special Projects Officer
  • Battalion Communications Officer
  • Battalion Ordnance Officer
  • Battalion Information Officer

Also there are normally team leaders that include:

  • Color Guard Commander
  • Rifle Team Captain
  • Drill Team Captain

Final Thoughts

JROTC is a great program, and hopefully it maintains its status in many schools across the country. We would love to hear from current or former cadets. Tell us more, we are listening.

If you have any comments or questions, just post them below. Now here is the JROTC Cadet Creed:

I am an Army Junior ROTC Cadet.

I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, country, school and the Corps of Cadets.

I am loyal and patriotic.

I am the future of the United States of America.

I do not lie, cheat or steal and will always be accountable for my actions and deeds.

I will always practice good citizenship and patriotism.

I will work hard to improve my mind and strengthen my body.

I will seek the mantle of leadership and stand prepared to uphold the Constitution and the American way of life.

May God grant me the strength to always live by this creed.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

Suggested Resources:

  • Drop the Belly Fat Today! Decrease cravings. Lose weight and feel great. Learn how.
  • The # 1 Health Product you need, but haven't heard of before! Get the info.
  • The # 1 Side Hustle for 2024 & Beyond! Daily Pay. Take the free tour.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *