Cadets explored what the Army had to offer during the annual Branch Week event, which kicked off with 17 static displays, including artillery and rocket systems, tanks, helicopters and numerous other displays that represented every facet of the Army Sept. 6-9 in Central Area at the U.S. Military Academy.
During the process, cadets spoke with branch representatives to get an honest and accurate perspective on what each branch is like before confirming what branch suits them best coming into their senior year.
Ultimately, perspective plays a crucial role in identifying what personality traits fit best when branch representatives select candidates.
Moreover, USMA 2014 graduate Capt.Joseph Marxen would tell you, “Personal desires are also considered when we go through the selection process. I was talking to a cadet this morning, and he was like, ‘I either want armor or logistics,’ and I’m like, ‘hey, those are two very different branches. It’s great that you’ve got desire for both.’”
Marxen added that he was able to coach the cadet and help him weigh the pros and cons of joining each branch based on his personality traits and desires.
“I asked, ‘why do you think you want this? Where do you think you would thrive?’” Marxen explained. “Because if I sell them on logistics and make it sound like the most awesome branch, what happens when they arrive at their unit and realize they don’t like their branch? They are probably not going to be a good officer, and it’s going to hurt the team's performance.”
Class of 2025 Cadet Erich Brilliant said he loved the static displays and felt the presentation of
Branch Week improved since last year’s event.
“Aviation killed it this year — they always do, though,” Brilliant added. “The branch reps are a lot more talkative and energetic than last year.”
With the Quartermaster branch displaying a massive poster of their branch insignia over the far right end of Washington Hall, cadets like Class of 2024 Cadet Reilly Fish felt intrigued and compelled to see what the Quartermaster branch had to offer. He also took notice of the upgraded presence of the less popular branches.
“I think just about every branch has brought more to the table,” Fish said. “We’re also starting to see more from the smaller branches like the Med Service tent. I never really recognized it until this year because it was always super tiny. Same thing goes for transportation and quartermaster. It’s good to see the smaller branches are getting more exposure. Artillery has all their cool toys, but there is way more to see now from every branch.”
Branch Week also broadened the perspective of officers representing their branch. For 1st Lt. Aiden Naylor, the experience reminded him of his humble beginnings after joining the Chemical Corps branch.
“I think it’s brought my perspective back to the basics,” Naylor said. “It’s easy, once you get caught in the hustle and bustle and the stress of Army life, to start forgetting what you’re meant to do. But seeing how these cadets are so hopeful and idealistic is making me think about it from their perspective and it’s reenergizing me.”
USMA 2019 graduate 2nd Lt. Sorca Jordan said she was thrilled to inform cadets on her branch, Field Artillery. Throughout the week, she informed cadets about the realities they may face working in artillery and felt a sense of fulfillment mentoring cadets as they weighed on their decisions.
“I think this experience reaffirms my own confidence and my own ability to make an impact, which in turn, will be better for the organization as a whole,” Jordan concluded. “My colleagues and I are going to be commanders soon, and I need that confidence to be a good leader for future officers in the same way that these cadets will need confidence when they commission as lieutenants.”