Monday, October 25, 2010

Mything and Missing ROTC

Interesting piece on the politics and policies of ROTC in the US--reserved officer training corps where folks go to college on Uncle Sam's Dime but get additional training in exchange for serving as officers in the US armed forces.  This has been one of the major sources of American officers.  With increased criticisms of US military academies (see Tom Ricks's stuff), ROTC provides one of the alternatives. 

There has been much positioning about whether elite schools have rebuffed ROTC or not.  This piece suggests that it has mostly been the military, rather than the Ivies, that have been responsible for their absence from certain campuses.  It argues that the ROTC folks have not been willing to meet academic standards yet have demanded academic credits, resulting in their movement to less regulated environments in the South and West. 

It is more complicated than that, of course.  Andrew Exum, who tweets as abumuqawama, asserted that it is also cheaper to move out of the northeast and towards regions where recruiting is easier. I would ponder as well whether the Ivy-types might have been more willing to bargain hard because their constituents were less enthused about ROTC. 

Any way you slice it, it appears to be the case that the ROTC debate is largely misguided.  It should be focused on the gains to the universities and the military, the costs, and the required compromises to make it work.  ROTC is clearly an important pathway for military leadership, and perhaps a healthier one since it requires less segregation than the academies (which have a variety of pathologies).

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