Cadets in Syracuse University’s Army Reserve Officer Training Program became the first to ever attend and successfully complete the US Army Special Operations Civil Affairs Assessment and Selection Course (CAAS) in December 2020. Cadets Madeleine Gordon and Patrick Little have acted as a proof-of-concept and going forward the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School will now expand the opportunity to all ROTC programs starting in the summer.

ROTC Cadets catching their breath in forest.

Civil Affairs is a role the Army describes as the “Special Operations community’s warrior-diplomats.”  Using foreign language training, cultural expertise and skilled negotiation, Civil Affairs soldiers build formal and informal relationships to accomplish objectives in diplomatically or politically sensitive areas.

All of this was made possible because of the advocacy of says Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Gotie, Syracuse University’s Army ROTC Professor of Military Science, who is also a Civil Affairs Officer. “She came into our program and right off the bat was trying to make opportunities happen for Cadets that we didn’t even know were possible,” says Gordon. “She saw us and felt that we embodied some of the right characteristics to be successful in this career, so she fought for this possibility and we are both extremely grateful for it,” Gordon says.