<< The Body Politic

After ROTC’s return

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Jonathan Hillman, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations and chairman of Brown Alumni for ROTC, has a terrific op-ed today about how to make ROTC’s return to elite campuses meaningful:

Th[e] trend at America’s top universities confirms that the rift between American citizens and their military is neither preferable nor permanent. The military has been the most trusted institution in America for over a decade, but less than 1 percent of Americans currently serve, and an increasingly disproportionate number of recruits hail from the South. Today, most Americans “support the troops” without actually knowing them. This affliction is especially acute at America’s elite universities, where students have little outside of Hollywood to inform their perceptions of military life.


Fewer places are better than the classroom for building civil-military bonds. When possible, faculty should collaborate with ROTC instructors. Imagine how an East Asian politics class might benefit from the experience of a naval officer who has been deployed throughout the region. Knowing only about the military as a fighting force, many students will be surprised by the intellectual firepower wielded by America’s men and women in uniform. This is not the militarization of education, it is civic engagement 101.

Read the whole thing.