Senior Aneal Krishnan, cadet battalion commander of the MIT Army ROTC unit this semester, will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard on Friday, Dec. 20, at the unit's offices in Building W59.
After Krishan graduates in February, he goes directly to Ft. Benning, Ga., for four months of infantry officer basic training. After that, he will join Goldman Sachs' investment banking division in New York and be assigned to the New York National Guard as a platoon leader.
All this transpires as the United States armed forces prepare for combat with Iraq. Krishnan will be assigned to a light infantry unit, one of the more dangerous postings.
"Honestly, it concerns me," he said. "Our mission is to attack enemy infantry and tanks on the front lines and hold our position until we are reinforced by heavier units. Casualty rates for units like mine in combat are fairly high. I could think of safer ways to spend my time than clearing enemy bunkers in the desert wearing full chemical environment protection suits."
Krishnan, who is from Arlington, Texas, is an honors student with a double major in management and electrical engineering and computer science. Last summer, he commanded an active-duty infantry platoon in South Korea during a month-long internship designed to provide field experience for ROTC cadets.
"I led my platoon in combat training along the DMZ," recalled Krishnan, a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne School. "It was an awesome experience. The internship was one of the main reasons I was hired by Goldman Sachs. This is a perfect example of how the military gives you experience and skills to make you highly marketable in the civilian world."
Krishnan was awarded the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Educational Foundation Award in 2001 for achievement in a technical field. He received the 2002 MIT Charles Smith Award, the highest cadet honor, for outstanding performance and dedication in the battalion. He will also receive the Army First Command award for being the top-rated cadet in a brigade of 20 schools at the commissioning ceremony.
"My conception of a difficult task has drastically changed since I joined ROTC," Krishnan said. "The training was as much fun as it was challenging. I have gotten the free opportunity to fly in helicopters, jump out of airplanes and throw hand grenades, which are things that some people pay tons of money to do."
Krishnan, a member of Theta Xi and the a cappella singing group, Chorallaries, derived a valuable fringe benefit from his ROTC training. "I'm in great shape," he said. "I am one of the few guys in my group of friends who is graduating without a beer belly."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 18, 2002.