Military opens its doors at USF

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building, which will host ROTC programs will start today at 10 a.m.ORACLE PHOTO/JOSE LOPEZ JR.

At last the construction that has distracted many students in the Physical Education Dept. building has concluded. The Junior Military Leadership Center will have its building dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony today at 10 a.m.

The building was created specifically so the three branches of USF’s ROTC program could work in closer harmony.

The idea is modeled closely after how the military operates today in Iraq, where, rather than working as completely separate entities, the focus is more on a synchronized effort between the Navy, Air Force and Army. The University’s JMLC is unique – it’s the only one in the United States – and has been garnering attention from universities across the nation and MacDill Air Force base in Tampa.

The four-story JMLC building provides resources to help ROTC students become successful in the military.

Cadets will have access to the EST 2000, an enhanced training computer that simulates real-life firearm experience, through which they can practice accuracy with a target and even scenarios involving virtual hostages.

The guns used in the training exercises are loaded with air cartridges that allow handlers to experience the recoil of a real gun without danger.

Each classroom can hold 36 students, but if more space is needed, the walls can be moved so to combine two classrooms. The classrooms line the auditorium on the second floor and can be used for larger classes and events. They were also designed to hold teleconferences with people around the world, and keep with JMLC’s focus on interactive experiences.

The JMLC will also integrate new opportunities for all students on campus.

“International policy and diplomacy curriculum will eventually be added to the classes we offer. The military is just one part of national security, and we have taken that into account,” said Retired Naval Commander John Sarao, who currently oversees the construction of the JMLC building.

From the building’s entrance to the front door, there will be a walkway called “The Pathway to Selfless Service.” For $150, supporters can purchase a brick on the path – the proceeds of which contribute to ROTC students’ scholarship fund.

“ROTC scholarships cover tuition for cadets, but with this additional contribution we will be able to pay for their room and board as well,” said Sarao.

More than 200 people are expected to attend the Nov. 2 ceremonies, including Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who will speak at the event, and USF cadets.

Given the well-known competitive streak between different military branches, Sarao is eager to see how it will play out in the new building, where all three branches will share space.

“Right now, the three ROTCs have their own student lounges, (and) we’re going to have one combined lounge instead,” Sarao said. “It will be interesting to see how they react, to say the least.”