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Army cuts ROTC helicopter training at UND

The U.S. Army will end the helicopter training UND has provided for ROTC cadets since the 1980s, it announced Friday. A statement released by the Army's Cadet Command said it no longer had the money for the training. "In a time of constrained res...

Blackhawk landing
A North Dakota Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter lands in the middle of the UND campus quad.

The U.S. Army will end the helicopter training UND has provided for ROTC cadets since the 1980s, it announced Friday.

A statement released by the Army's Cadet Command said it no longer had the money for the training.

"In a time of constrained resources... we simply didn't have the budgetary resources," said Lt. Col. Matthew Hackathorn, public affairs officer at Cadet Command at Fort Know, Ky.

He said the budget for the training was $1.4 million in 2011.

Cadets already enrolled in the training will continue in the program until the end of the 2013-14 academic year, the Army statement said. The training will not be available for incoming ROTC students.

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Dick Schultz, director of flight operations for UND's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, said the school would have time to look for other potential training contracts to replace the lost revenue from the Army.

Lt. Col. Josh Sauls, professor of military sciences with UND's ROTC program, said about 45 cadets participated in the program at any given time.

Special to UND

The training made UND different from other school's ROTC programs. But Sauls said that without it, cadets will receive the same training as elsewhere in the country.

"They will still receive the same training and be competitive with cadets nationwide," he said.

After completing the training, cadets were eligible for a four-year degree in aviation, certification as a helicopter pilot and a commission as an Army officer. Graduates also could enroll in further helicopter training in Fort Rucker, Ala.

Hackathorn said the program's elimination was part of the broader scaling back of military spending.

"It came up this year for the first time. We've probably looked at it since this summer," he said.

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The Obama administration wants to cut military spending by $487 billion over 10 years, a process that local leaders fear could eliminate Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The end of the helicopter training was a surprise at the UND ROTC program, according to Sauls.

"We've been involved in the discussions since they began researching it," he said.

Schultz said the aviation school did not have dedicated staff or equipment to program, and the main effect on UND would be fewer students taking flight training.

Reach Bjorke at (701) 780-1117; (800) 477-6572, ext. 117; or send e-mail to cbjorke@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: AVIATION
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