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MAKING ROTC A NATIONAL PROGRAM AGAIN

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This project considers the question of whether the military has narrowed, to its detriment, the demographic pool from which it draws its young officers and how this affects civil‐military relations over time.

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)—the principal source for the recruitment of military officers—has lost its “national” character, becoming increasingly Southern and rural. Not only have elite colleges and universities kept ROTC programs off their campuses—ignoring their own pre-Vietnam War tradition of providing the military with class after class of military officers—so too has the military virtually dropped out of many major metropolitan areas to the detriment of its ability to recruit from a diverse and talented segment of America’s youth.  ROTC, properly understood, provides a critical link between the professional military and the nation at large—a link that is increasingly tenuous and needs to be maintained if citizens are to understand the military’s role in a democracy and, in turn, the military is properly attuned to the values and principles of the citizenry it serves.

To bring attention to this vital issue, we released a major report on the status of ROTC in America’s largest and most diverse urban center: New York City.  Our goal is to provide research supporting a renewed look at the ROTC’s development and specific policy proposals to university administrators, key members of Congress, and the executive branch.

REPORTS & COMMENTARY

Cheryl Miller and Jonathan E. Hillman, “How to Get More Ivy Leaguers into ROTC,” Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011. The chief obstacle to ROTC’s expansion today is not antimilitary sentiment but a Pentagon that prefers to allocate its resources to surer recruiting prospects, primarily in the South and the Midwest.

Cheryl Miller, Underserved: A Case Study of ROTC in New York City, a report of the AEI Program on American Citizenship,  May 2011. With over 8 million residents and the largest university student population of any city in the United States, New York City demonstrates the challenges faced by urban ROTC programs—and their great potential.

Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller, “Semper Phi,” The Weekly Standard, December 23, 2010. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, elite colleges now have a chance to make good on their promises and bring the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) back to campus.

Cheryl Miller, “The Other ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” The Weekly Standard, November 13, 2010. Is the Solomon Amendment a dead letter? The statute, enacted in 1996, forbids federal funding to universities that prohibit military recruiters or Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units from their campuses. Yet today, nearly 15 years since the amendment’s passage—and despite President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to “vigorously enforce” the law—ROTC is still absent from some of the nation’s most selective schools.

Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller, “The Military Should Mirror the Nation,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010. The nearly three million members of the U.S. Armed Forces have been at war for nearly a decade. While combat troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, surge forces are still deploying in Afghanistan and many soldiers are on their second or third tour of duty. Americans hold this service and sacrifice in high regard–but they do so increasingly from a distance. This is a threat to our country’s civic ethic of equal sacrifice.

AEI