Senior Trevor Hatfield applies the lessons of history to his present training with a focus on the future
By Lisa Laughlin
The study of History is about understanding the past, and applying it to the present—so it ultimately can shape our future. And that is exactly what Senior and Army ROTC cadet Trevor Hatfield is doing. Originally from Boise, ID, Hatfield has spent the last four years pursing a Bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in military science. He says that the combination has been a real benefit, both for his current studies and
future career goals.
“My focus in history is military history, so to learn different doctrines of the Army’s past is a good comparison to how we operate now,” he said. “It also built a lot of confidence speaking in front of people I don’t know and being able to manage my time to get assignments done. The planning process the Army teaches you enables you to think about every detail that a project will have within it.”
Hatfield says that starting ROTC as a freshman was probably the most beneficial thing for his time management skills as a student. He’s also used his experiences in ROTC as a background for classroom material, as he’s especially interested in late 20th Century conflicts.
“I can relate to these the most because our Army transformed after WWI to adapt to different types of war. It intrigues me most to see the tactics transform to full-scale conventional war to more of a guerilla type war. There are a lot of influential figures of the era whose leadership styles are controversial, but extremely effective,” he said, citing Patton and Plummer for examples. “It proves that there is a perfect textbook way for doing things, but what seems to be the most effective are the [tactics] that are out of the ordinary.”
A few influences on his studies in the history department have also been directed by Idaho faculty.
“One professor that steered my interest the most was Pingchao Zhu. I wasn’t really too interested in Asian history but she encouraged me to try her Modern China history class, which dives into diplomatic relations of conflict with America,” he said. “It is interesting to see the bigger picture of war when you can relate to it on a political scale. Every decision has consequences, and the hardest ones were related to how America conducted diplomacy with Asian countries to prevent the Cold War [from] escalating into something more.”
Hatfield says that he’s had the opportunity to draw from his military history classroom experiences when designing and evaluating plans for field training exercise scenarios.
“When I first joined the Army, I looked at every training event as a low level type of operation. It wasn’t until my experiences in ROTC and History class that broadened my view on exactly how many different aspects go into making a training mission successful,” he said. “ROTC also allowed me to look at battles in history and think about how many different aspects go into the planning to make wars and missions successful.”
And this summer Hatfield got the chance to explore some of those aspects, as he interned at Fort Hood, Texas and shadowed a Signal Lieutenant.
“It was a good opportunity for me to experience how active duty operated, as well as getting a feel for how a chain of command works in both a training and garrison environment,” he said.
“I had a lot of interaction with the company commander and her first sergeant to update them on the platoon so that they knew the tasks were getting completed,” he said.
In addition, Hatfield was also in charge of planning a week-long switch exercise, where platoons set up satellites and server boxes to make sure a forward operating base would get internet, phone, and communication for the brigade commander.
While on his internship, Hatfield was also able to visit a national training center for the National Guard and reservist helicopter pilots, where he had the opportunity to find out what life was like in the aviation branch.
“Since that is what I want to do in the Army, it was the most memorable experience—especially getting to go out to the hangers and get a tour of the different helicopters [like] the AH-64 Apache,” he said. “I also got advice and contact information on what I can do to prepare myself for flight school so it can get me a step ahead of others that don’t have the resources or connections.”
Overall, Hatfield considers his internship to have lent him some exclusive insight.
“I shadowed the unit in a unique time in the Army where they are moving from a pre-deployment training environment to more of a garrison style Army . . . A large group of the soldiers were being discharged out of the Army [during the chaptering process] to start reducing the numbers,” he said. “To learn how that worked was something I didn't think I would see until after I was commissioned.”
After graduating, Hatfield plans to center his goals on getting into the aviation branch.
“It’s one of the most competitive to get into coming out of ROTC, so academics and leadership ability weigh heavily on the national standing,” he said.
But with his military science and History studies at Idaho, and internship this summer, Hatfield feels that he stands a good chance.
“These sorts of experiences put you ahead of other cadets in the nation, and show that you want to be involved in the military,” he said.