June 15, 2012 — Maj. Michael R. Binetti, a veteran of deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, has assumed command of the University of Virginia's Army ROTC program.
Binetti, 37, of Ridgefield Park, N.J., was inspired by his own ROTC experience at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., in the mid-1990s.
"It was a good experience," he said. "When this opportunity presented itself, I saw that U.Va. had a lot of history with academic and athletic student leaders."
Binetti, who is a professor of military science, holds a B.A. in economics from Siena, a master's degree in public administration from Webster University in St. Louis, a master of military arts and science in theater operations from the Command and General Staff College and a master of arts in security studies from Kansas State University.
"My job here is to develop and mold the future Army officers to be professionals in their service to the nation," he said.
Binetti will teach military science to fourth-year students.
"I am going to focus mainly on military leadership and on the skills they need to be officers," he said. "I am coming into this from operational units, so I can provide practical feedback and insights on military and political operational levels."
Binetti comes from a military tradition; his father and grandfather were career officers and his mother also worked for the U.S. Army. Even so, he was dubious about a career in the military.
"I checked it out and realized that it was a unique opportunity," he said. "It was something that would challenge me. I intended to stay in for three years and then be a civilian again. But I found enjoyed what I was doing, and the people with whom I worked. I got good assignments and served with some really good people."
Binetti has served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. He has served in engineering units in the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea; the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 20th Engineer Brigade in Fort Bragg. He served as the executive officer of 20th Engineer Brigade during its deployment to Operation New Dawn in Iraq, and has also served in Kosovo.
Binetti has received three Bronze Stars, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals and two Army achievement medals. He has been awarded the Combat Action Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, Sapper Tab, French Parachutist Badge and the Australian Parachutist Badge. He is also a recipient of the Army Engineer Association's Bronze de Fleury Medal.
Binetti is married to Maj. Heather Herbert, a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, who has transferred to the JAG School on North Grounds. They have two small children.
"I was excited to be with soldiers and now I am excited to be with cadets," he said. "I can tap into the energy they have."
– by Matt Kelly