ROTC is Back

Participation in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the country’s college-based, officer commissioning program, is apparently up 27 percent over the last four years. That’s according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times by Larry Gordon:

Helped by the recession, more active recruiting and a sea change in student perceptions of the military, enrollment in ROTC programs on college campuses is booming.

Even with ongoing U.S. involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya, participation in the program has surged… to 56,757 men and women, according to the Defense Department. The military boosted the number of ROTC scholarships to help expand the wartime officer corps, and the recession made the offers attractive to students.

Several high profile colleges—Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale—also recently decided to bring ROTC programs back to campus, after Congress ended the military’s controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in December.

While military training programs were controversial on many campuses during the Vietnam War, in most cases the programs never left, they just grew unpopular. The state of the economy has helped to turn that around.

The Navy recently signed agreements to bring ROTC back to Columbia, Harvard, and Yale. According to the article many interested parties say that “the recent change of heart by influential American universities will boost the prestige of the program, which was founded during the Civil War on the belief that the nation needs a well-educated officer corps imbued with civilian values.”

Does that mean we’re going to start winning some of our wars again?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer