Archive for the 'ROTC' Category



Elite Schools and the ROTC

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

Andrew Exum recently weighed in concerning “demonizing” so-called elite universities for not having ROTC programs (viz. Columbia University).  Quoth Exum:

Okay, there is one huge problem with this. It’s easy to demonize the “elite” universities for not having more ROTC programs, but the reality is that the U.S. military has been the one most responsible for divesting from ROTC programs in the northeastern United States. It’s hardly the fault of Columbia University that the U.S. Army has only two ROTC programs to serve the eight million residents and 605,000 university students of New York City. And it’s not the University of Chicago’s fault that the entire city of Chicago has one ROTC program while the state of Alabama has ten. The U.S. military made a conscious decision to cut costs by recruiting and training officers where people were more likely to volunteer. That makes sense given an ROTC budget that has been slashed since the end of the Cold War. But it also means that the U.S. Army and its sister services are just as responsible for this divide between the so-called “elite” living within the Acela Corridor and the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was one of two Army ROTC graduates in my class at the University of Pennsylvania, but it was not the fault of Penn or the ban on gays in the military that the U.S. Army decided to shutter the ROTC program at Penn after my freshman year and move us all over to Drexel’s program. (Go Dragon Battalion, by the way!) The U.S. Army made a decision based on a logical (if short-sighted) cost-benefit analysis … we need to ask harder questions about what kind of efforts we need to make to build an officer corps that best represents the American people.

Okay, that’s enough.  Then he goes on to give us the following update: “Cheryl Miller of AEI has a response to my post up on the Weekly Standard’s website, largely agreeing with what I wrote but adding more. Cheryl is the real subject matter expert on ROTC, so be sure to read what she has to say.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds a bit sarcastic, doesn’t it?  “The real subject matter expert?”  I sense the same, tired attitude displayed by CNAS that “I’m the expert, or if I’m not, then I know someone who is, and you should listen to him, and no one else is an expert because they aren’t my expert, and if you haven’t done what I’ve done and been where I’ve been, you aren’t qualified to speak on the issue, because I’m the real expert … and oh, did I tell you that I’m the real expert at almost everything, and if I’m not, my buds are?”

In fact, it isn’t at all obvious to me that someone would have to have been an alumni of an ROTC program in order to comment on what kind of people we want in ROTC programs.  Remember that civilian control of the military thing?  Many military experts commenting over the web (various sites) claim that they want civilian input, but that’s usually a ruse.

So someone tell me why it’s a good thing to “build an officer corps that best represents the American people?”  Why would I place positive value on such a thing?  Do we want mediocre students along with bright ones?  If the answer is no, we just want the best students who represents sectors of society, then we’ve already discriminated.  Discrimination.  It’s not a bad thing in the right context.  Discrimination helps to categorize red lights from green lights, and color blind people sometimes cannot do that.

Greyhawk comments thusly about this issue: “If the goal of the faculty of Columbia is to produce graduates unfit for doing the rough work of a workaday world, they’re demonstrably good at what they do. (I’m not sure why anyone, much less the military, should view their product as desirable employees.)”

I’ll be even a little more blunt.  I see no compelling reason whatsoever to care enough to start ROTC programs on the campuses of “elite” universities.  In fact, if offered a choice, I would prefer that we don’t.  Would we rather have students from the Ivy League universities who have been schooled in Jacques Derrida, or from Southern universities schooled in the sciences?  I mean no disrespect to those readers who have studied hard in the social sciences or other-than hard sciences like physics or math.  But I am saying that there is a qualitative difference in the result produced between the two approaches, and the products are intended for different ends.

I know.  I took literature too, and all of the social sciences, and I didn’t really learn to think about the humanities until I attended seminary and took historical theology and apologetics, and read things you won’t read in Ivy League universities such as “An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy” by A. H. Armstrong, Carl Becker’s “Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers”, Frederick Copleston, Ronald Nash, Gordon H. Clark, Alvin Plantinga, W. G. T. Shedd, Francis Turretin, Charles Hodge, William Cunningham and John Calvin.  Such writings would challenge the order of things.  The universities are cheating our students into thinking that they are learning something by teaching them deconstruction, race studies and feminism.

But I took kinematics, statics and dynamics, calculus and fluid mechanics too (just not in seminary).  I can still think of no compelling reason at all to pursue the Ivy League schools.  Let me see.  Someone who studied the humanities from Columbia, or someone who studied fluid mechanics and calculus in a Mechanical Engineering major from Clemson University, N.C. State or Georgia Tech?  It seems pretty clear to me.  Who would you rather have commanding an M1A1?


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