No more ROTC at old Slippery Rock?


" … part of an Army effort to redirect its resources and money to areas where it wants to broaden its recruiting, including major cities.
To underwrite the transformation, the Army chose to close R.O.T.C. programs at 13 universities, more than half of them in the South. Tennessee alone will lose R.O.T.C. offerings at three of its public universities, the most of any state.
The Army selected the universities after a review found that the programs were typically yielding fewer than 15 commissioned officers annually, although the military acknowledged it granted exceptions to dozens of schools because they met other standards.
The Army Cadet Command, which oversees R.O.T.C. and its approximately 33,000 aspiring soldiers, said that by shuttering the 13 lagging programs, it will be able to shift resources to 56 other markets, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. In many instances, existing programs will grow.
"  NY Times


This works for me.  I was an ROTC product, sort of.  VMI commissions some US Army officers every year by way of its participation in the "Senior Military Colleges" division of Army ROTC.  Air force, navy and marine officers are also produced there although a lot of graduating cadets choose not to be officers in spite of the life they have lived for four long years.  BTW, I think the name "Reserve Officers Training Corps" should be changed.  The usage is long obsolete and derives from a time when the production of reserve officers was the primary purpose of the program.  For a long time now the services' ROTC programs have produced many, many Regular officers.  The name should be aligned with reality.

ROTC is a highly efficient way to find junior officers.  It is much cheaper than the national military service academies like USMA, USNA, etc.  West Pointers don't like to hear that after four years on active duty as officers the products of West Point, ROTC and Officer Candidate School are indistinguishable, but that is the truth.

The service academies will not disappear.  American public sentiment would oppose that and the cadre of alumni of the service academies is still too powerful for that to happen.  The public thinks of the service academies as paths to lives of accomplishment open to talent and that is a strong protection for those schools.

A benefit of the widespread distribution of ROTC programs is the resulting diversity of regional, educational, and cultural background in the officer corps.  In addition to that, ROTC in recent decades has given many partial or full scholarships to students.  This has enabled  many to attain a college degree.  Former enlisted soldiers now return to the army as officers after the ROTC experience.  That infusion of real world experience can only be a benefit.  Having had the experience of watching newly "minted" "college boy" second lieutenants just emerged from West Point or ROTC try to command a lot of adults, I can only say that experience helps.   One of my senior sergeants once laughed and told me that watching this process was a bit like seeing a monkey try to f—k a football.

I have a certain sympathy for what US Army Cadet Command is trying to do.  In addition to dropping programs that do not produce enough officers, they are trying to balance the geographical and quality of education issues that have arisen since the expulsion of many ROTC programs from big city campuses during the Vietnam War.  The Army officer corps is now, in my opinion, too heavily weighted with people who are in origin; rural, Southern and enrolled at universities that are not particualry distinguished.  This may seem odd given my obvious affection for the rural South, but I think the country needs forces commanded by people who are more representative of the country as a whole and its educational diversity.

BTW, the service academies are not as regionally diverse in the origins of their students as they might be thought.  There are a number of ways to become a student at the service academies and they do not all  orginate in the nomination of a member of Congress.

This discussion may seem irrelevant to foreigners, but it should not.  At some point in the future your countrymen may well meet troops commanded by men and women who have merged from the ROTC program.  pl Army_realigns_Reserve_Officers__Training_Corps_programs/


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33 Responses to No more ROTC at old Slippery Rock?

  1. Anon1 says:

    Colin Powell was a product of ROTC from the City University of New York. I took some classes with Army ROTC at the Polytechnic Institute of New York, but got my commission throught the USAF Officer Training School.

  2. Will says:

    what do you think of OCS Col.? they tried to enroll me but i was not increasing my time beyond required by the draft.
    they did send me to NCO shake and bake school at Ft. Benning. it was hilarious there. the First Sergeant said boys i have good news and bad news for you. the bad news is that the NCO school doesn’t start for 4 weeks and we”ll have to put you on Kitchen Police (KP). The good news is that you could go to airborne school in the meantime. we all to a man immediately lost our fear of heights! Hairborne Deadly, Deadly Borne

  3. turcopolier says:

    I think army OCS is fine if the candidate has some real experience before getting there. pl

  4. “they are trying to balance the geographical and quality of education issues that have arisen since the expulsion of many ROTC programs from big city campuses during the Vietnam War”.
    As a foreigner to whom the question does not seem at all irrelevant, I am curious as to whether this expulsion was in any way reversed in subsequent years — and insofar as it has not been, whether it can be now.
    Given that Harvard professors — such as Samantha Power and Niall Ferguson — have been very keen on seeing the United States involved in new wars, it would seem appropriate that Harvard students should have the opportunity to train to be officers.
    A situation where civilians educated at prestigious universities in great American cities, who have never served, and whose children are never likely to serve, send people from undistinguished colleges in the the south and west of the country to fight and die in overseas wars is, it seems to me, inherently liable to end badly.
    Confusion is commonly inevitable, and perhaps the fact that in the Vietnam era opposition to a specific war became entangled with opposition to the military as such is not really so very surprising. But it was a profoundly unhealthy development.

  5. Pat,
    I posted a comment on this which was relegated to spam. If you could retrieve it, I would be grateful.
    Odd thought it may seem, it is a matter on which I have quite strong views.
    As I wrote on a thread some time ago, a situation where people like Richard Perle send people like Tyler to fight in unwinnable wars seems to me inherently liable to end badly.

  6. Richard Armstrong says:

    I respectfully disagree that graduates of West Point are indistinguishable from other officers. They have those big damn rings the like to knock on tables all the time. In fact, one former officer was so impressed that I had immediately recognized that he was a WP grad that he hired me on the spot.

  7. turcopolier says:

    David Habakkuk
    IMO since VN the “elites” in the US have sought to avoid their civic obligation for military service. pl

  8. Continue to recommend the service academies become Masters in Military Science programs for college and university graduates with enrollments based on needs of the services!

  9. Chris Bolan says:

    As a West Point graduate I can wholeheartedly endorse COL Lang’s observation that USMA and ROTC graduates are indistinguishable after four or so years of subjecting the officer’s leadership abilities to practical tests. That said, this diversity of experiences is a strength of the junior officer corps.
    To Richard: Over the course of a 30-year career, I have never once banged my ring on a table nor observed another WP graduate doing so. In my experience, the bond of young lieutenants working to master their professional trade was far stronger than any prior collegiate experiences. Of course, many friends were also shocked to discover that as a WP graduate I didn’t have a**-hole stamped on my forehead :=)

  10. Neil Richardson says:

    Dear Mr. Habakkuk:
    “As a foreigner to whom the question does not seem at all irrelevant, I am curious as to whether this expulsion was in any way reversed in subsequent years — and insofar as it has not been, whether it can be now.”
    Since 2010, Stanford, Yale, Brown and Columbia have considered re-introducing on-campus ROTC programs. As I understand it, these proposals have stalled due to the usual faculty opposition. In general they do not consider military science courses as “appropriate” for academic credit. For many years, DADT had been the reason given for the opposition. However, IMHO the bottom line is that we still have a significant portion of tenured faculty who came of age during the Vietnam War. Although there is a significant rising demand among students in these institutions, I don’t think there will be any changes until some of the older generation retire.
    “Given that Harvard professors — such as Samantha Power and Niall Ferguson — have been very keen on seeing the United States involved in new wars, it would seem appropriate that Harvard students should have the opportunity to train to be officers.”
    Actually, the absence of on-campus programs does not prevent students from enrolling in ROTC programs. Students can commute to nearby programs (In my case I had to commute to Fordham). Eliot Cohen actually enrolled in Army ROTC program at MIT as a graduate student and received a reserve commission. His son Rafi did the same as an undergraduate and served as an infantry officer after graduation back in 2004.

  11. Neil Richardson says:

    I forgot to note that Harvard did bring back the Naval ROTC program two years ago

  12. turcopolier says:

    Cohen’s son is a rare exception. pl

  13. Walrus says:

    1. Each Australian state has a university regiment which offers similar paths to ROTC. That’s how I was commissioned.
    2. There was a short service commission out of a number of OTC’s during Vietnam that produced excellent graduates from the ranks. I’m not sure if that pathway exists today. It should, for the reasons the Colonel elucidated.
    3. My experience of some Australian defence force academy graduates (west point equivalent), at least the younger ones that I trained with, was that they were overgrown frat boys, complete with private jokes, etc. however my daughter in law is an exception.
    4. All U.S. officers it’s been my privilege to meet have been excellent fellows.

  14. Fred says:

    That is still true, sadly.

  15. jon says:

    Well said. I agree that there should be a rough representation of the entire country in the officer corps, as in the rest of the military. I also agree that you can pull exceptional officers from the ranks, and perhaps there needs to be preference for that. Fully expendable second lieutenants doesn’t seem to be the best use of resources.
    As for the disinclination of ‘urban universities (read Harvard)’ to host ROTC, I think there needs to be some recognition that affluent and upper class families didn’t see the point of sending their sons out to die on a fools errand. Everything has its limits. And I think they chose not to perpetuate the sacrifice that the English upper classes made in the First World War.

  16. confusedponderer says:

    And Cohen’s son joined the US Army and not the IDF.

  17. turcopolier says:

    “affluent and upper class families didn’t see the point of sending their sons out to die on a fools errand.” Are you describing yourself? I do not think that doing one’s civic duty in military service is a “fool’s errand.” pl

  18. Fred says:

    The ‘affluent and upper class families’ are the ones in political power creating all those ‘fools errands’. They have little connection to the rest of American society and apparently no obligation but to any but themselves.

  19. LeaNder says:

    I would like to understand the ROTC program better than I do, without diving too deeply into matters, as nitwit and foreigner, without studying this:
    I wonder if the experts here can explain the example from the NYT article to me.
    Sarah Short student of nursery. Will she study nursery at the regular department for that field and receive military and physical training at the same time both during the term and the during the term breaks. Will she only study for her degree now, and get the military training and serve only later. Or will she study at some type of specialized college or university branch designed solely for the military that somehow integrates both requirements?
    I am assuming that the ROTC program is open on any stage, e.g. also for soldiers who already served. Would it also function the same way at a later stage, only different levels of training concerning military matters? Or is the usual way exactly the way Sarah does it?
    OK, I think I showed I somehow don’t get it.

  20. PL! Few of the elites in the USA have any sense of civic
    responsibility! They believe they are “owed” by all the rest!
    A complicated cultural change for our democracy [Republic]!

  21. turcopolier says:

    You were rarely a s–t even as a young fellow at the academy, and you were a good student. pat

  22. turcopolier says:

    There are a lot of options now for college students in ROTC but the basic arrangement is for a student at a four year accredited college or university to enroll in ROTC and take military science and skills classes from the ROTC staff in addition to the normal work in whatever major field they are studying. Graduation produces a commission as well as the college’s degree if all has gone well and the person is still physically qualified. There may or may not be a scholarship from the service involved as well. pl

  23. PL! Was not ROTC mandatory not elective in your VMI years?

  24. turcopolier says:

    Instruction for four years in Military (Army) Air or Naval Science was mandatory then and is now. This is a prerequisite for graduation. What is different now is that cadets are not required to take a commission or be enrolled officially in ROTC. pl

  25. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Pat, that makes sense. That means that in their chosen major they are among the non-military students of the specific field of studies. Sounds good.

  26. turcopolier says:

    Yes. They are indistinguishable from non-ROTC enrolled students except by having a short haircut. They wear uniform to ROTC training and classes and civilian clothes the rest of the time. VMI is not like that of course. Cadets wear uniform all the time when not on leave and all live a regimental life in the cadet barracks. pl

  27. BIgBIrd says:

    Graduating college four years after Pat, I have to make the observation that class rings were much more common ‘back in the day’ than now. Biggest difference is the current price of gold, not that class rings were inexpensive back then.
    OCS was going full blast when I went on active duty and a college degree was not a requirement for OCS. USMA graduates always seemed to wear their rings, which stood out in the general body of lieutenants. I personally found my college ring to be so bulky that it was always getting in the way and didn’t always wear it.
    In the early 60s, the first two years of ROTC were often mandated by colleges, making for huge ROTC programs, with continuation into the upper level urged along by the draft. I went to a large state university with two cadet regiments of AROTC, not to speak of similar participation in AFROTC. NROTC was scholarship and much smaller. Mandatory ROTC ended around 1964, well before the Viet Nam War took off.

  28. oofda says:

    A couple of the schools on the list were not southern- the University of South Dakota, and North Dakota State. There are alternatives in each state, not that far from those schools. GEN Willaim Dupuy, one of the foremost U.S. Army leaders in the post-VN era, was an ROTC grad from South Dakota State, one of the two remaining ROTC units in South Dakota.
    I am a USNA grad, served 28 years in the Marine Corps. NROTC, for a variety of reasons, has far fewer schools with units than those with ROTC/AFROTC. And virtually all are schools with strong engineering programs.
    I don’t think that the academies, especially West Point and Annapolis will be changed or disestablished, in part due to the angst that came out of NROTC and ROTC being kicked out of campuses during VN. The concern is that it could happen again, under a variety of circumstances. Note that Notre Dame, in particular, gobbbled up many if not most of the NROTC scholarships. And the Navy and Marines are happy to get those grads.

  29. Fredko says:

    To be precise, in 1958 Colon Powell graduated from the City College of New York, established in 1847. The City University of New York was established in 1961 and was comprised of several 4 year and 2 year colleges, including CCNY. In 1971 the faculty senate of City College voted to remove ROTC from the campus. It had been offered since 1917. In May 2013 ROTC was restored. General Powell was present to mark the occasion.

  30. Hank Foresman VMI 76 says:

    Colonel Lang I once proposed over at Tom Rick’s blog that West Point become a “Sandhurst” like institution where all seeking an Army commission must complete. The other prerequisites I proposed that all had to be enlisted, completed basic and individual training, and have a college degree. This would also do away with ROTC and OCS.

  31. turcopolier says:

    Hank 76
    That would be fine with me. The idea has been suggested several times. The money that is now lavished on the service academies could in part be spent on sending highly qualified candidates to first rate universities with the WP “Sandhurst” experience to follow. How would you deal with the obvious need to provide upward mobility for NCOs? I would be happy to see ROTC leave our alma mater. The US Army Cadet Command has repeatedly tried to interfere in the administration of VMI and their organization of “cadet battalions” for their training is IMO inherently detrimental to the unity of the VMI cadet regiment. pl

  32. BIgBIrd says:

    Other services have an OTS for college grads with the Marines also having PLC. Unless you’re super dedicated to the idea of becoming an officer, basic, AIT, OCS and branch training, plus time between these schools, could be a long interval. I believe that one’s service commitment now only begins after the training. Could be a disincentive.
    Every time the Army expands for a war, shortages appear at CPT/MAJ and SSG/SFC, with a RIF afterwards to bring things back in balance. In 1967 it was one year as a 2LT, a second year as a 1LT and then to CPT. These were field promotions at COL level without any promotion boards, and the Army was still hurting since a Reserve officer only had a two year active duty obligation, similar to a draftee. Many of them left at the end of their tour.

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