When the U.S. Army’s largest training exercise is canceled, it will have an impact.
Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox typically welcomes thousands of Army ROTC cadets from colleges and universities all over the country. Like numerous other cancellations in 2020, COVID-19 is the culprit.
“With the constantly changing COVID-19 environment and the fact our cadets and cadre come from all over the United States, the Army determined the health and safety of our cadets and cadre as well as the American people was paramount,” an Army news release said.
CST is significant because of its impact on the Army and its readiness.
Future leaders are built through ROTC programs at more than 1,700 colleges and universities. It is a way to earn scholarships to cover tuition and fees. The leadership skills learned apply to life in and out of the service.
The summer training is central to the ROTC process. Unlike the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where future officers live the Army life from day one, ROTC offers structured military instruction and career opportunities mixed with a more traditional college life.
Cadet Summer Training is significant because it’s central to the mission at Fort Knox.
Cadet Command is headquartered here. It’s primary mission is the recruitment, education, development and inspiration necessary to help these students become commissioned Army officers. Months of planning go into this training every year and canceling it because of the coronavirus has to be disappointing.
It also means the Cadet Command leadership will have to work harder to accomplish its goals in new and different ways.
It’s significant in the community around Fort Knox because the post is a local economic engine.
Losing a year of Cadet Summer Training on top of coronavirus closures and restrictions will be a blow to many businesses.
Subtract 9,000 cadets, a training cadre of about 5,000 plus an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 family members who come to visit each summer, particularly to witness the graduation exercises, and it’s easy to understand a lot of dollars will not be circulating locally this year as a result of the cancellation.
The community is not unaccustomed to Army decisions having local and regional economic fallout. Fort Knox is great, yet at the same time a fickle friend. It’s important to celebrate the good times and roll with the punches at other times.
This situation, hopefully, will be unique to 2020 and the Army mission, Cadet Command and community all will be ready to welcome Cadet Summer Training’s return in 2021.
This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.