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6 traits of top military officers (and why the Army comes to UNG to find them)

Members of the Corps of Cadets talk about career opportunities in the U.S. Army during a recent Branch Day event.

Recently, the University of North Georgia (UNG) held its 2015 Branch Day – sort of a career fair for cadets – that welcomed representatives from 11 Army branches, the Georgia National Guard, Army Reserve and Special Operations to talk about their jobs and the type of officer they're seeking.

"We come here to make sure we attract the best and brightest – that's everyone's goal," said Capt. Chuck Wood, an infantry officer from nearby Camp Frank D. Merrill.

Discussing career possibilities early in a cadet's education is part of the U.S. Army ROTC's talent management program, said Lt. Col. Greg McMahan, head of instruction for UNG's Department of Military Science.

"The program aims to match talent requirements identified by the branches with cadet talents identified by cadets themselves, their instructors and standardized tests," McMahan said. "It used to be 'Are you smart? Are you strong? And do you know your tactics?' Now, they're looking a little bit deeper into the intellectual and physical attributes and characteristics."

Capt. Christopher Hoff, a 2009 alumnus of UNG, attended 2015 Branch Day to represent Signal Corps.

"UNG traditionally provides cadets with the foundational discipline and education to lead soldiers, and as they transition into the Army, it's our responsibility to help them make an informed decision that pairs their passions and interests with the operational needs of the Army," he said.

Every Army officer must possess all six of the following baseline attributes, but participants in the 2015 Branch Day explain how certain attributes make future officers a strong fit for their branches:

1. Character: Aspects of character include showing Army values, empathy, warrior ethos/service ethos and discipline. In particular, the military police seeks officers who are "talented leaders of character."

2. Presence: For Army officers, presence means military and professional bearing, fitness, confidence and resilience. Officers who spend a lot of time out in the field need to be in top physical condition, said Master Sgt. Kevin Brown, who serves in the armor branch.

"One thing we're really looking for in an armor officer is their ability for critical thinking," he said. "But it also is a very demanding environment; armor officers have to be physically and mentally fit to handle the tough conditions."

3. Intellect: Representatives from Signal Corps, Chemical Corps and Engineers said critical thinking, innovation and problem-solving skills are vital in the Army's technical branches. With a shortage of cadets graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), the Engineer branch is looking to boost its numbers through college recruiting.

"We chose to visit UNG because it is an all-Army ROTC university and UNG has a reputation for producing adaptive and dynamic leaders," Sgt. 1st Class Everett said.

4. Leader: The ability to lead under pressure is key for Infantry officers, Wood said.

"I think what we look for most is interpersonal skills – the ability to manage and lead other people, especially through tough situations. If they can't relate with people and manage them when it's low stress, when it starts to get more difficult, it will be even harder for them," Wood said.

5. Developer: It's important for an officer to create a positive environment, develop others and steward the profession. Among many talents expected of transportation officers, they should leverage, learn and develop individual skills and talents to get the job done using the right "mind-sets over skill-sets."

6. Achiever: All Army officers are expected to get results in their specific jobs, but quartermasters are called upon to be excellent project managers and multi-taskers. They work with every branch of the Army "to sustain the fight" through logistics.

Featuring a strong and growing Corps of Cadets, UNG is one of six senior military colleges in the country and is designated as The Military College of Georgia and as a state leadership institution.

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