As a new school year begins, the NIU Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Huskie Battalion welcomed back one of its own.
Col. (Promotable) Brian E. Alvin, a graduate of the NIU Class of 1984, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve.
The ceremony took place Saturday, Sept. 7, at Altgeld Hall. Brig. Gen. (Promotable) Mark McQueen, commander of the 350th Civil Affairs Command was the presiding officer.
“We’re incredibly proud of Col. Alvin’s accomplishment,” said Lt. Col. David A. Dosier, chair of the NIU Department of Military Science.
“One aspect of ROTC that I stress to people at NIU is that our graduates represent NIU’s contribution to our country’s military leadership. It’s an important contribution, sometimes on a global scale,” he added. “In this case, it’s NIU’s Brian Alvin who will be making significant contributions to our nation’s defense efforts.”
Col. Alvin is the first NIU ROTC graduate to attain the rank of brigadier general. Typically, less than 1 percent of all Army officers will achieve this rank. “NIU has commissioned 555 graduates since the establishment of the ROTC program here in 1968,” Dosier said. “This is our first general.”
He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial technology and was commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant in the Chemical Corps. He credits the ROTC program with helping him choose a career and showing how the military could work for him.
After his initial assignment with 2nd Armored Division in Fort Hood, Texas, Col. Alvin served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Army Reserve. These included:
- commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 807th Medical Brigade;
- commander of the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion; and
- commander of the 645th Regional Support Group during which he also served as the commander of the U.S. Forces Garrison on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Col. Alvin also served two tours in Baghdad, Iraq, and is currently assigned as the assistant chief of staff J4 (Logistics), U.S. Forces Korea. After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he desired to increase his contributions to the military and sought out tougher jobs and deployments.
In addition to his military duties, he works full time as the global facilities manager for First Solar Corp. in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Alvin said he chose to return to NIU for his promotion because it’s “the place where it all began for me. It provides an opportunity to return something to the program and the school which helped me choose a path.”
In returning to NIU, Col. Alvin also looks forward to the “opportunity to help influence and inspire the cadets and show them the value of perseverance and hard work.” He challenges current NIU ROTC cadets to “decide what you want to accomplish and give it your best. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Take care of your people and they will reciprocate. The team’s success will be your success.”
Alvin is “a staunch supporter of the program” who regularly makes donations to the Cadet Fund to support extra-curricular activities for the cadets, Dosier said.
“This promotion sends a message to all currently serving and future NIU ROTC graduates: ‘There are no limits to your potential.’ Generals don’t just come from West Point or Ivy League schools – they come from NIU, too,” he said.
“Some of our cadets are pursuing their lifelong dream to serve their country and lead soldiers. It’s a demanding commitment on college students to add 22 credit hours to their degree plans and an inordinate amount of time in military studies and training to get through this program,” he added. “Col. Alvin’s promotion to general demonstrates what that commitment and hard work can result in.”