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In November 1984, ISU requested to create an independent AFROTC program hosted by ISU and with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) as a cross town school. Until then, AFROTC at both ISU and RHIT had been under a cross town agreement with the University of Indiana (IU) in Bloomington. At that time, the AFROTC program at ISU was not robust enough to warrant an indepedent unit. Before the Air Force would even consider creating an independent AFROTC unit in Terre Haute, ISU would need to make some modifications to the program and make long term-commitments to it. The university had to pledge to raise AFROTC to a stand alone deprtment at the school. There was a need for support staff for the new department. ISU had to commit space to be used solely by AFROTC for storage of uniforms and equipment, as well as office space for the instructors and support staff.The Air Force required funding commitments for futre academic years for the department. As befitting a department at the university, the senior officer instructing AFROTC needed to hold the rank of professor. Prior to this, all the AFROTC officers were assistant professors. In August 1985, ISU promoted its first AFROTC instructor to the rank of associate professor. Space was designated and a guarantee of funding the department was made. ISU now had a program with a chance at being granted independence from IU.

In November 1985, ISU again requested that the Air Force create a new independent AFROTC unit at ISU with RHIT as a cross town.This second request merited consideration - ISU had made some major improvements to the program. Early on in the process new units were being considered in major metropolitan areas of over 1 million people where AFROTC did not have a presence. The changes made to AFROTC since the 1st request could not be ignored though. In May, 1987 the Air Force notified the university that it had agreed to stand up an independent AFROTC unit at ISU beginning with the 1987-1988 academic year. Detachment 218 was born! AFROTC Educational Service Agreement F01600-80-D0189 formalized the agreement between the Air Force and ISU. This agreement is still the document by which Detachment 218 is maintained at ISU, albeit with some amendments. ISU would be the host school and RHIT would be a cross town affiliate beginning in June 1987. Detachment 218 has continued at ISU and RHIT since 1987. Other institutions have come and goneover the years. The detachment has been made up of ISU, RHIT Ivy Tech and DePauw University since 2013.

Change since 1987 has not only been in member schools, but also in source of instructors. After twenty-five years of solely using active duty Air Force officers as instructors, March 2012 saw the first new source of AFROTC instructors at ISU. The Air Force began filling some AFROTC instructor positions with Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members that were brought onto active duty under a special program developed for AFROTC, the Voluntary Limited Period of Active Duty (VLPAD) program. In June 2018, AFROTC established yet another source of instructors, contractors. Commissioned officers from the Air Force who left the service before retirement, retired, or who were still serving in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserves could now be hired by a private contractor and placed at detachments according to the needs of the Air Force. Detachment 218 currently has instructors who who are serving on active duty, the VLPAD program, and a contractor. Their experience encompasses active duty, the Air Force Reserves, and the Air National Guard: a true total force instuctor cadre. Throughout Detachment 218's history, regardless of the institutional makeup or the source of the cadre one thing has remained consistent - producing leaders of character.