Thousands of Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets are returning to Fort Knox for annual summer training this year — a culminating event before cadets become commissioned officers.

Last summer, the coronavirus pandemic forced the Army to cancel ROTC cadet summer training at the central Kentucky installation just days before the first students were expected to arrive.

Instead, cadets were given training in rifle marksmanship, combat casualty care and tactics at college campuses and nearby military installations. This year, though, the annual event is largely back to normal.

Cadet summer training is the single largest training event conducted throughout the Army, according to an Army Cadet Command news release announcing the return of the event Monday.

During an average summer, roughly 10,000 cadets are trained over the course of about three months.

“It provides a learning and training laboratory that enables cadets to take advantage of the tough, realistic, iterative, and dynamic training, equipping them for their roles as future Army leaders,” the news release reads. “The training this year is being conducted in a COVID-informed environment, ensuring our cadets meet all of the training requirements to receive their commissions while mitigating COVID-19 health risks.”

ROTC commissions approximately 70 percent of new officers entering the Army each year into the active duty, reserve and National Guard components. Many ROTC cadets also attend college on scholarships provided by the program.

The total amount of scholarship benefits paid last year stands at more than $355 million, according to Army Cadet Command. Merit-based scholarships go to about 15,000 students each year at more than 900 campuses across the nation, the command added.

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