The Class of 2023 Cadets gathered at various locations to choose their first Army duty station during the annual Post Night event on Feb. 28 at the U.S. Military Academy.
The staff and faculty in the Department of Military Instruction organized Post Night using a draft-style posting process based on the USMA order of merit list, allowing cadets to select their duty station and Basic Officer Leader Course based on where they rank from highest to lowest on the OML.
Lt. Col. Eric Gust, USMA Accessions chief, added that Post Night is an exciting tradition at the academy because it represents one more step toward the academy’s goal of providing leaders of character for Soldiers every year. While the DMI Accessions Division manages several processes, including Branch education, Talent Based Branching and Inter-Service Commissioning, the Post Night process is always one of the most exciting due to the intimate nature of each branch population.
In total, 614 cadets selected duty stations across the 48 contiguous states (CONUS), while 152 cadets chose duty stations outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS).
“I choose Fort Bragg, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division because it is the most lethal brigade in the United States Army, and it is at the forefront of our nation’s response to threats abroad,” Class of 2023 Cadet Yousef Kaborsi said. “I feel extremely blessed and ready to take on the challenges that await me, and I am proud and honored to join a historic lineage of great paratroopers.”
While some cadets chose their duty stations for the adventures that could come with it, other cadets made their decisions based on family ties and a need to be closer to home.
“I chose Fort Irwin because it is close to home, and I wanted to work with an armored cavalry unit. I honestly only had two options left, and it was between Fort Irwin and Fort Polk, and I am from California, so Fort Irwin is much closer than Fort Polk,” Class of 2023 Cadet Annabelle Jaeger said. “It feels amazing to be one step closer to graduation. Selecting my duty station gave me a reality check. It is very exciting that we all post in just a few short months.”
Class of 2023 Cadet Joshua Gaffin branched with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and chose Fort Bliss as his duty station.
“I love Texas and I love the food there,” Gaffin said as he waited at Arnold Auditorium for Post Night to begin. “My family is happy about my choice since I’m closer to home.”
Class of 2023 Cadet Julia Riekena landed on Fort Carson, choosing this location based on conversations she had with many officers about the unit and what type of training she should expect there.
“I also grew up in Montana, so the location gives me the opportunity to go back to the mountains and have a little bit of home around me,” Riekena said. “It feels unreal that Branch and Post Night have already happened. This year has gone by superfast, and picking posts last night put into perspective how close we are to graduating and leading Soldiers.”
During the event, officers were excited to see cadets reach this milestone, with some officers like Capt. Jonathan Di Bianca, the Infantry Branch representative, having flashbacks of their Post Night experience as cadets 10 years ago.
“I feel an immense amount of pride and joy for these cadets. As a 2013 graduate from USMA, it reminded me of what I felt during my Post Night,” Di Bianca said. “Up to now, this 43-plus month experience at USMA has provided each cadet with the necessary tools and leadership skills to lead Soldiers, accomplish the mission, and win at the point of friction. I am proud of each and every one of them because they are one step closer to graduating from West Point, commissioning as a second lieutenant in our Army, and ultimately winning that first fight, wherever it may be.”
As the days turn into weeks, the Class of 2023 Cadets prime themselves for what lies ahead upon commissioning into big Army and leading the nation into the future.
“The Class of 2023 is in its final months at the academy, and I know they have done a lot of research on the units that are located at each post,” Gust said. “Additionally, mentors across USMA have educated them on the culture, mission and unit type at each available post so they can make informed decisions. Regardless of where these cadets end up posting, Soldiers everywhere deserve leaders who will inspire and motivate them, and I know the Class of 2023 is up to the task.”
The following is a display of duty stations chosen by the Class of 2023:
CONUS: Fort Bliss, Texas: 66; Fort Bragg, North Carolina: 81; Fort Campbell, Kentucky: 76; Fort Carson, Colorado: 62; Fort Drum, New York: 40; Fort Hood, Texas: 100; Fort Irwin, California: 8; Fort Knox, Kentucky: 2; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri: 3; Fort Polk, Louisiana: 20; Fort Riley, Kansas: 39; Fort Sill, Oklahoma: 25; Fort Stewart, Georgia: 47; Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia: 1; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington: 44.
OCONUS: Alaska: 30, Germany: 46, Italy: 11, Japan: 2, Korea: 32, and Hawaii: 31.