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ICYMI: Transforming Army ROTC with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Gen. Jefforey Smith

Today, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has more than 30,000 cadets enrolled nationwide and some 275 universities hosting full ROTC programs. And with the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ROTC has been welcomed back on campuses where it once had vibrant programs.

However, as Major General Jefforey A. Smith noted upon taking up his command, the ROTC “program that we have in place today is exactly the same program that I went through between 1980 and 1983 at Ohio State University.” And changing demographics will require the Army to better maximize its limited resources to effectively train cadets and to produce an officer corps that reflects America’s geographic and social diversity.

To discuss how best to move Army ROTC into the future, Major General Smith sat down for a conversation with General Jack Keane, an ROTC graduate and former Army vice chief of staff.

Watch the full video after the jump:

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The Return of ROTC to New York City

The Return of ROTC to New York City
By Cheryl Miller
(October 2013)

Last month, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) returned to the City College of New York after a 41-year absence. At the official signing ceremony last May, former secretary of state and retired general Colin Powell—arguably the college’s most famous alum and a graduate of Army ROTC—noted the significance of the reconciliation. In bringing ROTC back to campus, General Powell said, the college was recognizing that “we may disagree with the politics or the policies of it all but military service is honorable.”

General Powell’s words were a reminder of ROTC’s tumultuous history at City College and its forced ouster during the firestorm of student protests over the Vietnam War. Like several other prominent schools—among them, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia University—City College had hosted one of the earliest ROTC programs in the nation, graduating its first class in 1917. But this collaboration ended during the Vietnam era after some schools voted to bar the college-based training program for military officers from campus. Later opposition to US policy on gays in the military, particularly “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), reinforced the schools’ bans and led to the removal of more ROTC programs, including at one of City College’s sister schools, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

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The return of ROTC to New York City

This fall, Army ROTC officially began classes at the City College of New York, ending a 41-year absence. The program will serve as headquarters for a new partnership between the Army and the City University of New York, intended to make ROTC more accessible to New York City students. It also marks a broader move by the military to reengage with areas currently underserved by recruiting policy and to realign the ROTC footprint so that it produces an officer corps more representative of American society.

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Harvard’s ROTC Commissions New Ivy League Officers

In a jam-packed auditorium featuring generals and proud alumni, Harvard College hosted its third ROTC commissioning ceremony following recognition of the program in March 2011. Harvard University President Drew Faust, herself a veteran’s daughter, described Harvard’s ROTC program as a step toward bridging the civilian-military divide.

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ROTC to Return to City College of New York

After a four decade hiatus, City College of New York is set to reopen its doors to Army ROTC this week. While City College once had a thriving ROTC program, during the Vietnam War anti-military sentiment reached a fever pitch on campus.

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ROTC’s First Year at Columbia

It’s been a year since Columbia University re-established an on-campus Naval ROTC program. In the latest edition of Columbia’s The Blue and White, student Naomi Sharp gives a progress report. Thus far, she notes, the program has flown under the radar, attracting little attention, positive or negative, but “a quiet beginning to the program has its benefits.”

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Can ROTC Solve Its Minority Problem?

In the Atlantic, Colin Daileda writes about the challenges the military faces in accessing minority officers—and how the return of big city ROTC can help. Daileda follows the progress of new ROTC units at schools affiliated with the City University of New York (CUNY) and notes how their success could lead to a more diverse officer corps.

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ROTC debate continues at Brown University

At Brown University, the only remaining Ivy League institution that has yet to welcome ROTC back to its campus, students are taking to the campus newspaper to discuss the prospect of ROTC at Brown. As we noted in October, the editorial board of the student paper, the Brown Daily Herald, has for the past two years issued statements calling for the reinstatement of the program on campus, only to be met by opposition from the campus administration. In a recent back-and-forth, two more students weigh in—one arguing for the program’s return, and the other arguing against it.

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ROTC Returns to CUNY

As we noted in December, ROTC is making a comeback at the City University of New York (CUNY) school system. York College is the first of the system’s colleges to welcome ROTC back after its 40-year hiatus, but programs are currently planned for other CUNY campuses at Medgar Evers College, the City College of New York, and the College of Staten Island.

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CUNY’s ROTC reveille

The New York Post reports that the City University of New York (CUNY) is beginning to allow ROTC programs back on its campuses. York College in Queens, part of the CUNY system, offered a first-year military science course this fall, which 18 students enrolled in.

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Defending ROTC at Columbia

As the Washington Post reported this week, the number of college students across the country participating in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has increased by 50 percent since the 2005–06 school year, with 36,474 students enrolled in the program this past school year. Indeed, during the 2011–12 school year, “the Army commissioned 5,880 officers and reservists, surpassing its goal of 5,350. That number is expected to increase in coming years as large incoming classes mature.”

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Where’s ROTC at Columbia?

Last year, when elite universities began announcing their intentions to bring back ROTC, Jonathan E. Hillman and I cautioned that if Ivy League ROTC was to succeed, it would require a real commitment from both the schools and the military.

Some progress has been made. Yale has welcomed Air Force and Navy units back to campus while Harvard is hosting its first military-science class since the Vietnam era. Even Brown University, the lone holdout, isbeginning to thaw. But at Columbia University, where the new Naval ROTC unit is located an hour away from campus, the program is suffering from “half-hearted implementation,” according to Columbia ROTC cadet, Ryan Cho.

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Brown University students call for ROTC

As we noted last week, Brown University, which is currently the only Ivy League institution that has yet to allow ROTC to return to its campus, is attempting to provide support to students who have served or are interested in serving in the military–without actually welcoming the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program to campus. Writing in response to the campus administration’s position, the editorial board at The Brown Daily Herald has called for a reinstatement of the ROTC program on campus.

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More on ROTC and the Ivies

Continuing our recent coverage of ROTC’s return to the Ivies, here are two more articles that discuss the trend.

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ROTC returns to the Ivies

Jonathan E. Hillman, with whom the Program’s Cheryl Miller wrote about ROTC and the Ivy League in December, writes this week in the Wall Street Journal about his experience attending the first ROTC class at Harvard this fall.

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Blind Army captain serves Gonzaga’s ROTC


In April of 2005, while serving as an infantry officer, Army Captain Scott Smiley was injured when a car bomb exploded while he was patrolling the city of Mosul, Iraq. The blast left him temporarily paralyzed on his right side and permanently blind.

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ROTC returns to Harvard

On Monday, ROTC at Harvard University resumed its exercises on the Ivy’s campus–for the first time in 41 years. The Wall Street Journal reports: After decades of chilly relations between the elite school and the military, dating back to the Vietnam War and persisting because of past military policies on gay soldiers, Harvard has welcomed back […]

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Navy ROTC returns to Yale

At Yale University, this fall semester marks the first time in 40 years that Navy and Air Force ROTC students will once again take up training on the school’s campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the ROTC program is scheduled for September 21.

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Colin Powell commissions ROTC cadets

As another school year draws to a close, graduating ROTC cadets across the nation are being commissioned as officers in the U.S. military. This past Thursday, Gen. (Ret.) Colin Powell administered the commissioning oath to 13 Northeastern University cadets who were made 2nd lieutenants in the Army.

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Harvard prepares for Army ROTC

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday, Harvard University welcomed Army ROTC back to campus. The program first came to the University in 1916, but was closed in 1971 during the Vietnam War-era protests. After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, Harvard brought Navy ROTC to campus last year–but, as the Harvard Crimson reports, “cadets in that program still must travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to take courses.”

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