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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Army ROTC Unit Ranks Second Nationally on Training, Recruiting and Mission Focus

Hard work, diligence and excellence in team performance have paid off for some 120 cadets in the Army ROTC Unit at the University of Mississippi.

The Rebel Battalion has been selected as second-best in the nation in the annual Order of the Founders and Patriots of America “Outstanding Army ROTC Unit Award.” Seattle University placed first, with Cameron University coming in third.

There are 273 Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in the nation, which are divided into eight regional brigades. The UM unit is part of the 6th Brigade, which nominated the UM program for the annual review recognition. The review is based on certain criteria, including recruiting, retention, training and cadet performance at summer camps.

In a congratulatory letter to Lt. Col. John Abruscato, the unit’s commander, Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, said, “The degree of excellence the Rebel Battalion has achieved in total training performance, recruiting and achievement of mission will make a visible and enduring contribution to our command’s mission – to commission the very best young men and women that America has to offer.”


Paying tribute to his unit for a job well done, Abruscato said, “This award is a review of the overall program, not any one particular cadet, and we have the best and most motivated cadre that a commander could ever ask for. This has been the best job in the Army over the course of my 20 years of service.”

The number of students enrolling in the Ole Miss Army ROTC program has doubled over the last three years, Abruscato said. Last year, the program commissioned 27 officers, the most commissioned from this program since the 1970s, when ROTC was required.


Typical of the caliber of students who comprise the UM unit is senior Gabriel Weiss of Ocean Springs. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Croft Institute for International Studies, Weiss is majoring in international studies and Chinese, with minors in intelligence and security studies, military science and leadership.

Weiss said the award reflects the hard work of the cadre and cadets over the last several years.

“I have witnessed firsthand the changes in this program and was happy to see our standards raised and our performance improved. Only the best and brightest should be able to become Army officers, and our program today is a reflection of that philosophy,” said Weiss, who plans to report to the active-duty Army for Infantry Officer Training in January 2012.

For more information about UM’s Army ROTC program, visit