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The topic of ROTC being brought back to ivy league schools and other elite universities is back to being a popular topic of discussion in military news circles. For those that aren’t familiar with military issues this doesn’t seem to matter much. This topic is however very important and more so now than ever.
Defense secretary gates and Chief of the Joint Staff, Admiral Mullen warn of the dangers of an American society that is so far removed from the military community. This gap seems to get bigger over time and it especially noticeable in big cities or places that don’t have any sort of military community near. It is a scary notion to think about that 1% of Americans are fighting all our wars and for the rest of us, outside the winter holidays period we don’t put much thought about those serving. If it wasn’t for the USO and other entities vying for time on our entertainment networks during this time, most probably wouldn’t think of those serving even during the holidays. Once the month of December is over we are back to hearing about the wars or those serving but in a very removed sense as it doesn’t seem to affect our daily lives.
There are many reasons for this disconnect. Most of it stems from the lack of exposure and knowledge about those serving. One part can be attributed
to the lack of military presence at some of the most elite universities in the country. What kind of message is that sending to high caliber youth? With endless opportunities to learn and grow, these students don’t have an exposure to the military, which is not good on multiple levels.
While the military as a whole has recently enjoyed meeting and exceeding recruiting goals, the lack of military presence on ivy league campuses is much more than a recruiting issue. It is important for the military career path to be available to all that wish to go that route and the presence of military at places that typically aren’t very much connected to this community can benefit everyone involved.
Washington Post published an interesting article about ROTC recently that talks about revamping the program, making it more relevant and possibly offering some cost savings. Some of the ideas are compelling http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/27/AR2011012706168.html
Agree or disagree with the above article, one point is clear and that is that some sort of ROTC program needs to be brought back to elite universities across the country. Both Harvard and Columbia have made claims that now that DADT has been put to rest they are looking forward to welcoming the military back on their campuses. This will be an important first step in restoring a connection between the military and youth that may not be exposed to this community otherwise.