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Dian Welle
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Branch Night PDF Print E-mail

Branch selection is made during the Fall of Firstie Year. During their previous three years of summer training, the Cadets have been exposed to the various combat branches, and during the academic years, they have had some contact with some of many of the non-combat branches. Branch selection is a several step process, and the final results are determined according to Class Rank and Army regulations. This process begins with a briefing of the Firstie Class by the Department of Military Instruction, and is followed, probably few days later, by a Branch Open House, enabling the Firsties to ask more questions about the various branches. The Firsties then designate their top three preferences by computer. With that information, the Army will then assign branches.

Class ranking, which is based on overall performance (including academics, leadership, and physical) is critical to this process. Figuratively speaking, the Firsties are lined up by class rank. Each branch has a minimum and a maximum number of cadets that can choose that branch (some by gender, some open to men only (combat arms)). The first cadet in the class gets his/her first choice, the second gets his/her first choice, provided no branch has closed out, and the is goes. If one branch gets its maximum number, then it is CLOSED and no other cadet may select it. Some branches may not meet their minimum quota, and consequently so some cadets at the low end of the class ranking may be forced into those branches. Usually, almost all cadets get one of their top three choices. The higher the class standing, the greater the chances are of getting one's first choice. It used to be that all the Firsties were marched into an auditorium in class-rank order, where they each would stand up in turn and select his branch from those branches which were still open. Now this process is done by computer.

The Department of Army Branching Policy is determined by the needs of the Army. The combat arms branches (Air Defense Artillery, Armor, Aviation, Engineers, Field Artillery, and Infantry) must be 80% men and 20% women. The support branches (all the others) can be up to 20% men and up to 80% women. Only 2% of the Class may choose Medical School, and no more than 1% can choose a different branch of service (Navy or Air Force).

Branch Night is huge event in the life of a cadet. The Firsties march down to Eisenhower Hall, wearing BDU's, and sit by company with their TACs. They are each given an envelope with their branch insignia in it, and in unison, they open them. The branch insignia is then pinned onto the collar of BDU's. This is a very emotional night for the Firsties, as they realize it is the beginning of their being split up. Their commitment and loyalty to each other is great, and the friendships that cadets build in four years are rather unique.


US Army Branches:


Adjutant General
Air Defense Artillery
Field Artillery
Medical Service Corps
Military Intelligence
Military Police
Ordnance Corps
Signal Corps
Special Forces


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Random Quote:

“Throughout our history men of West Point have served their country with honor and distinction. In peace and in war they have played a significant role in the development of our nation. They have made a substantial contribution to the position now enjoyed by the United States. If much has been done in the past, much remains to be done in the future. The great scientific developments of the last few years have compressed time and vastly increased power. They have, in fact, moved us into a new age. Whether or not these changes spell progress and improvement depends to a large extent upon the wisdom and character of those who are now in the schools and colleges of our country. You and your generation are the future. You who are at West Point have a particular responsibility because of the opportunities you enjoy and the dependence that will be placed upon you…”

General Lauris Norsad, USAF
Air Deputy to SUPREME Allied Commander, Europe, Founderís Day message, March 1954


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