School of Business


  1. The ROTC Heritage Introduction
  2. The Civil War and After
  3. The Creation of the ROTC
  4. The Inter-War Years
  5. Impediments to Program Effectiveness
  6. World War II
  7. New Direction
  8. The Turbulent Sixties
  9. The Comptroller's Organization for Management Study
  10. ROTC Under Assault
  11. ROTC After Vietnam
  12. Efforts to Boost Production
  13. Attempts at Reform


The idea of conducting pre-commissioning military education and training of Army officers in America's colleges and universities is as old as the nation itself. In 1783, George Clinton, prominent statesman and six-term governor of New York came forward with a plan that called for the introduction of military instruction at one civilian college in each state of the Union. Under this plan, students, after completing their degree and prescribed course of military instruction, would be commissioned and serve a short period on active duty. Upon returning to civilian life, they would form a trained officer reserve that would be available in time of emergency. A system of inspections and reports was to give coherence and uniformity to his officer education program. Nothing came from the Clinton proposal.

The University of Georgia claims to have hosted on-campus military instruction as early as 1807. Georgia state law in the early nineteenth century requited all male citizens (except clergy) between the ages of 18 and 45 to assemble five times a year for a military muster. Because many university students fell into the designated age group, they attended campus drills. The purpose of this training was not to prepare its recipients to receive commissions but to allow them to fulfill their military obligation.

The first civilian institution of higher learning in the United States to actually incorporate military education into its curriculum was the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy - now Norwich University. Capt. Alden Partridge former superintendent of U.S. Military Academy at West Point, founded the school in 1819 at Norwich, Vermont. Modern ROTC traces its heritage back to this institution.

The citizen-soldier ideal was the driving force behind Partridge's educational experiment. Partridge wanted officers who would be "identified in views, in feelings, and in interest, with the great body of the community," and a college that would reconcile the efficiency and discipline demanded by a regular Army and thereby broadened the education base and expanded the political outlook of the professional officer corps.

The college's curriculum was advanced for its time and much more diverse than the curriculum at West Point. It included courses in agriculture and modern languages in addition to the sciences, liberal arts, and various military subjects. Field exercises for which Partridge borrowed cannon and muskets from the federal and state governments, supplemented classroom instruction and added an element of realism to the college's program of military training.

Between 1819 and the Civil War, a number of other essentially military school were established. Lafayette College, Oak Ridge Academy, and the Kemper and Marion Institutes were private institutions, while the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and the Citadel were state-supported ventures. At these latter two colleges, attachment to the citizen-soldier idea was not as strong as at Norwich. Their founding was bound up with the southern military tradition and the practical need to provide a management education for the sons of the planner aristocracy.

A number of civilian institutions hosted by military instruction during the antebellum period. Saint John's College (Annapolis, MD) began offering it in 1826. The University of Tennessee and Indiana University purportedly had it as early as 1840, while William Tecumseh Sherman introduced it at Louisiana State in 1859. Collegiate military training enjoyed a brief and checkered run at the University of Virginia in the 1820s and 1830s. When he founded the university in 1825, Thomas Jefferson made tactical drill and training mandatory. Such training, he hoped, would produce qualified officers for a national militia. He even foresaw military education developing into a recognized academic field of study. Jefferson's dreams were soon dashed, however. Within a decade of its activation, the university's cadet company was disbanded after a spirited confrontation with the university's faculty.


At the start of the Civil War, the Union found that it did not have nearly enough trained officers to lead the Army. The 20,000 officers initially required overwhelmed the supply of 1,500 West Point and Norwich graduates available for services. By necessity, the leadership in most regiments passed to military novices. The officer crises impelled the U.S. Congress to make some provision for the education of citizen-soldier military leaders.

Representative Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, a friend and neighbor of Alden Partridge, introduced legislation that came to be known as the Land-Grant College Bill in December 1861. The proposed act gave every state 30,000 acres of public land for each of its member in Congress. Funds generated from the sale of the land were to be used in establishing and sustaining at least one agricultural and industrial college in each state. The bill stipulated that military tactics had to be included in the curriculum of these institutions. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862, the day after General George McClellan's disheartening defeat in the Seven Days Battles (June 25 to July 1).

Soon after the passage of the Morrill Act, Land-Grant colleges began to be endowed and military instruction became part of many college curricula. Professors with Civil War military experience headed up most collegiate military programs. They did this, however, as a sideline because they still had to perform their full-time duties in other fields. The training offered in those early years often left much to be desired. In most cases it consisted exclusively of drill of the most rudimentary kind. Perhaps this was all that could be expected from a program that had no defined objective, no authorized provision for uniforms or equipment, no syllabus, and no prescribed outline of courses. Even had the training been better, the Union's officer procurement woes would have been solved since Morrill's bill came much too late to have exercised a significant impact o the courts of the war.

In the post-Civil War era, Congress enacted a number of measures designed to improve collegiate military training and encourage its growth. In 1866, it authorized the president to detail 20 officers to teach military science at Land-Grant institutions; in 1870, small arms and equipment were authorized to be issued; in 1880, retired officers were granted permission to teach; in 1888, War Department assistance was made available to schools outside the land-grant community, to include high schools; and in 1893, legislation raised officer authorizations for detached college duty by 100. By the turn of the century, some 42 institutions, including both state and private colleges, had established departments of military instruction. It was among the Land-Grant institutions, however, that the tradition of military training took firmest root and concept of citizen-soldier officer education became the most firmly embedded. At most Land-Grant school, one year of military training had been made compulsory by 1900.

Despite various steps taken to improve instruction, the contributions of collegiate military training programs to the national defense were limited. No uniform training standards guided instruction nor was the federal government given supervisory authority to regulate the collegiate programs. Officers were allowed to conduct raining according to their personal views and desires. The result was that no two institutions were alike in their courses of military instruction.

According to a board of officers convened in 1911 to consider collegiate military programs, the majority of officers assigned to campus duty lost sight of their principle purpose - to produce volunteer officers - and concentrated on developing "fine drill corps." The board lamented the fact that both institutions and instructors were "judged by parade ground results." The latitude accorded to officer-instructors in developing their own courses of instruction, board members concluded, was largely responsible for this unfortunate state of affairs.

The officer assignment policies of the War Department also limited the effectiveness of on-campus military training programs. The department's stinginess in personnel matters presented a particular problem. In some of the larger Land-Grant schools, the Army detailed one Regular Army officer to manage a corps of several thousand cadets. University administrators complained about the quality as will as the quantity of the officers assigned to their institutions. Many received inexperienced second lieutenants when they expected seasoned colonels. Others got officers who were not physically qualified. In 1911, a War Department inspector deemed the retired major serving at North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo as unfit for his position because of old age - he was to turn 80 on his next birthday. Cadre motivation was another serious issue. The Army simply did not attach much importance to instructor duty and officers knew it. One university president urged that time spent as collegiate military instructor "should count as time spent with the troops in considering his service and promotion." Otherwise, he warned, the "discrimination" against such work would continue to discourage officers from accepting such assignments.

The Army's lukewarm support of collegiate military training was due in part to personnel and budgetary constraints. Personnel and money were in short supply during most of the period in question. Senior Army leaders were reluctant to detail officers to colleges and universities because, in the words of one department commander, such detached duty "depletes the line and deprives the troops of the services of these excellent officers when they are most needed." The pre-World War I army devoted more words than resources to leader development.

The indifferent attitude of university authorities toward military training also dampened the War Department's enthusiasm for the program. This indifference, one general staff study noted, was displayed by the "wholesale excusing" of students from military instruction. Farm chores, athletic commitments, conflicting civilian job schedules and a host of other activities too numerous to recount got students excused from drill. The failure of college administrators to allot proper time and opportunity for the work of the military department was another sign of this indifference, or s it seemed. A student at the Army War College complained that "college authorities usually designated the last hour of the school day for military work -- time when the ordinary student had no enthusiasm to work or play." The reluctance or refusal of most college administrations to provide adequate facilities and resources for their military departments only confirmed their apathy toward military training in the minds of many military officers.

Student motivation for military training suffered because there were few opportunities available for commissioned service either in the Regular Army or in the state militias. It is true that around the turn of the century the War Department started granting Regular Army commissions annually to one outstanding student from each of the ten most highly rated Land-Grant and military colleges - called "Distinguished Institutions." George C. Marshall received his commission in 1902 upon graduation from VMI as a result of this policy. Yet only a relative handful of students could get commissions in this way.

It seemed odd to some regular officers that state militias (with two exceptions) did not take advantage of Land-Grant institutions to fill their officer ranks. The fact was, however, that most state organizations wanted no part of these colleges or their alumni. One state Adjutant General openly declared that the graduate of a collegiate military training program was not "the material desired for the militia of his state." One college president explained, "The ordinary college graduate usually had difficulty in securing the approval of his untrained and uneducated peers (in the militia). They naturally look upon his as a college fellow who is trying to show off what he has learned in college."

There were some units that achieved a relatively high state of morale and effectiveness. The unit at the University of Nebraska was one of these. During the Spanish-American War, its corps organized itself into the First Nebraska Infantry, which fought with distinction in the Philippines. Yet, despite occasional bright spots, collegiate military training in the half century after the Civil War was under-funded, fragmented, and above all, nonstandard. The training it provided to students was, in the words of one authority, "spotty and varied in time and intensity form one institution to another." It was primarily this lack of uniformity that made the Army question the value of the program and the wisdom of dedicating money and resources to its operation.


The years immediately preceding America's entry into World War I witnessed increased Army interest in collegiate military training. The general Staff devoted considerable attention to it. That body believed that America's institutions of higher learning were the source from which the United States should draw the bulk of its reserve officers. But to obtain the desire qualitative results, the General Staff felt, the system of collegiate military training had to be standardized, which in turn necessitated centralized direction. "Central control," it wrote in one report, "is needed to insure efficiency and standardization." Imposing such uniform program of military instruction on the nations highly diversified system of higher education, is also realized, would be extremely difficult.

The Army Chief of Staff at the time, Ben. Leonard Wood, proposed some definite ideas about how to improve the existing system of military training at colleges and universities. In addition to upgrading on-campus instruction, Wood wanted to introduce a system of summer camps t provide cadets with practical training and to require every lieutenant to perform a short tour of active duty upon commissioning.

In 1913, Wood tested his summer camp prototype when he sponsored two experimental student military instruction camps for high school and college students at Pacific Grove, Calif., and Gettysburg, Pa. Except for tents, rifles and personal equipment, which were provided by the Army; student paid the entire bill. The training lasted five weeks and included drill, marksmanship, squad patrolling, and other tactical subjects. Two years later, with the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania as a backdrop, Wood opened an additional summer camp at Plattsburg, N.Y., for some 1,200 attendees, ages 20 to 40, with contributions from business and professional men. Within weeks, national interest in Wood's camps escalated into the Plattsburg Movement. Utilizing the Plattsburg model, Wood hosted two more camps that same summer; one attracting 3,000 participant and the other 16,000. These camps prepared 90,000 officers for service in World War I and served as models for the ROTC summer training program that followed the war.

While Wood was busy pushing his program, repetitive from Ohio State University, led b President William O. Thompson and Dean Edward Orton, Jr., advanced a program of their own. At the 1913 annual convention of Land-Grant colleges, Orton recommended legislation instituting minimum national standards fro collegiate military training and education. AT the very least, he wanted each military science program to include two years of military drill, three periods per week of military instruction, strict discipline during drill periods, a week of field training each year, and instruction in small unit tactical operations. Students completing this course of study would be commissioned into a reserve officer corps. To ensure compliance with prescribed standards, the federal government should, in Orton's opinion, reserve the right to discount payments of Land-Grant funds to those schools failing to meet this criteria.

Repetitive from various civilian and Army education organizations met in Washington, D.C., in November 1915 and, using Orton's proposals as a guide, drafted a bill to create a Reserve Officers' Training Corps. The full support of the academic associations made possible the eventual incorporation of the ROTC Bill into the National Defense Act of 1916, which was passed on June 3 of that year. In addition to creating the ROTC, the act established an Organized Reserve Corps; an organization into which ROTC graduates and other reserve officers could be pooled during peacetime.

The first ROTC units appeared in the autumn of 1916 at 46 schools. They registered a combined enrollment of about 40,000. These units were established too late, however, to permit them to exercise a significant impact on American involvement in World War I. ROTC training, in fact, was suspended in 1918 in favor of the Student Army Training corps, a body formed to train enlisted men for special assignments - not to provide on-campus pre-commissioning training.


Shortly after the armistice, ROTC was reestablished at most of the institutions that had maintained pre-war units. Congress attempted to reinvigorate the program when it passed the National Defense Act of 1920, which provided for more federal support of ROTC units in the form of uniforms, equipment, and instructors. In the period between the wars, the ROTC grew steadily although not as much or as quickly as some government and Army officials would have liked, due to limited appropriations. Starting with units at 135 institutions in 1919, the program encompassed 220 college and universities by 1940. Production also increased. By the time the United States entered World War II, the ROTC had produced over 100,000 officers and its graduates constituted about 80 percent of the organized Reserve Corps.

To get an ROTC until established on their campus during this period, college and university presidents had to petition he Army Adjutant General's Office. In their petition, they had to pledge to offer a four-year course of instruction of military science, which included a basic course of three hours per week during a student's first two years and an advanced course of five hours per week during his final two undergraduate years. If the petition was approved, the school was given the authority to require compulsory enrollment in the basic course and to determine the number of credit hours awarded for each military science course. The army assigned active duty officers and enlisted men as instructors and paid their salaries. Upon acceptance by school officials, the senior officer assumed the title Professor Military Science and Tactics (PMS&T) and the other officer the title of Assistant PMS&T. Permission to enroll in the advanced course was granted only to those cadets who desired t pursue a commission. They Army provided uniforms, equipment, and textbooks and paid advanced course cadets a small subsistence allowance to defray the costs of haircuts and uniform care. Cadets also received a small stipend during their six-week summer camp between the junior and senior year.

The branch affiliation of each ROTC unit determined its curriculum and summer camp regimen. Some institutions supported units of several types (infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineer, etc.). Certain subjects, i.e., map reading, military history, military law, basic tactics, camp sanitation, drill, and marksmanship were part of every curriculum. All military science instruction, both basic and advanced, was categorized as wither theoretical subjects; and marksmanship, drill and ceremony, and orienteering as practical ones. The advanced course of instruction followed a military pattern. The infantry had the largest enrollment and greatest number of ROTC units. Approximately 40 percent of the ROTC officers produced between the wars were commissioned through Infantry units.


The ROTC may have turned out an adequate supply of reserve junior officers during the inter-war years, but it did not always produce lieutenants ready to take their place in the Army. A host of troubles beset the program. Federal budgets were tight, training resources were scarce, facilities were often inadequate, and because of the pacifist sentiment prevalent in many university communities, the environment on the college campus was not always supportive of an officer training program. Moreover, because ROTC in this era was geared almost exclusively to the production of reserve officers, a sense of urgency and immediacy was often absent. In many units, close order drill was the heart of the program. Any tactical instruction that did take place tended to be overly theoretical. Summer camp, where cadets received their most concentrated practical training, was more often than not conducted at a leisurely pace with cadets given nights and weekends off and their schedule punctuated by frequent social activities. The result of all his was that the newly commissioned ROTC lieutenant often lacked basic military skills and knowledge, and was unfamiliar with the ethos of the military profession.

Part of ROTC's problem (which had been anticipated by the General Staff when the program was still in the planning phase) lay in its decentralized and diffuse organizational structure. At the national level, the G-1 assigned such a low priority to ROTC that the officer appointed to this duty usually rotated to another assignment before he became familiar with his area of responsibility. College officials who visited Washington, D.C., with the hope of discussing the ROTC program with War Department authorities, often came away disappointed because they could not identify an officer who was responsible for their particular area of concern.

The War Department held the commanders of the nine separate corps areas responsible for supervising the ROTC at the intermediate level. Each year, corps commanders were expected to conduct summer camps and inspect every detachment within their area of responsibility. Unfortunately, the staff element at corps headquarters that watched over the ROTC program was usually very small. In some corps, a single officer performed this duty. Many detachments received only superficial annual inspections while other detachments got none at all.

The chiefs of the 15 principal branches also played a part in overseeing the ROTC program at the intermediate level. While the corps staff concerned itself with all aspects of the program, the branches focused on curriculum development and summer camp instruction. The organizational dividing lines between the branched and corps were not always clearly delineated. Overlap and "underlap" were both problems.

At the lowest level, the PMS&T ran day-to-day operations. He answered to both the president of the institution to which he was assigned and the corps commander. The PMS&T conducted hi business with an officer-to-cadet ratio that would have horrified his counterparts of a later era (roughly 1:100 in 1923 versus about 1:20 in 1990).

The organizational arrangement outlined above did not have a mechanism for upholding minimum training and commissioning standards nor did it have at its head an individual positioned to protect the program's interest in high Army councils. What was needed, some felt, was a centralized command structure dedicated to the administration of the ROTC and capable of enforcing uniform standards on such a disparate set of institutions as those represented in the ranks of America's colleges and universities. Col. Ralph C. Holliday, PMS&T at the Citadel in the late 1930's, thought it would be next too impossible. At the 1937 regional ROTC conference held at Fort McPherson, Ga., he noted, "It must be remembered that senior units are not alike. What is done at the Citadel, others cannot do. The War Department cannot afford to undertake the straightening out of all these things. It is not a good policy to undertake to do that which you cannot do."

In 1941, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George C. Marshall, tried to improve the situation through the creation of an Office of the Executive for Reserve and ROTC Affairs. The general officer who filled this position acted as an advisor and representative for the ROTC in dealings between the Army leadership and college presidents. An ROTC Division, headed by a colonel and comprised of six officers and two civilian clerks, monitored day-to-day operations and advised the Reserve Affairs Executive and the General Staff G-3 on all ROTC matter. The creation of this office reflected praiseworthy intent but resulted in few concrete improvement. The executive's lack of real command authority appeared to be the problem.

The situation of the ROTC graduates did not improve after entering the Organized Reserve Corps. Beyond correspondence courses and rare opportunity for a 15-day active duty tour, little post-commissioning training or education of any type was available. Nor could most reserve officers hope to hone their skills by finding positions in units outside the organize reserve. The National Guard normally commissioned officers from its own enlisted ranks after passing them through state-run Officer Candidate Schools. In 1935, the situation improved slightly with the passage of the Thomason Act. This piece of legislation authorized a year of active duty for 1,000 ROTC graduates annually - 50 of whom could be awarded Regular Army commissions upon tour's end. In the main, however, professional development beyond the pre-commissioning phase became a reality for only a handful of ROTC graduates.


The mobilization of the U.S. Army for World War II gave the ROTC its first real test. From August 1940 to December 1941, 80,000 Organized Reserve Corps officers, the vast majority of whom were ROTC graduates, answered the call to active duty. This group of officers formed the nucleus around which Gen. Marshall built the war-time Army. In the midst of the war, Marshall paid tribute to these officers:

The procurement of suitable officer personnel was fortunately solved by the fact that during lean, post war years over 100,000 reserve officers had been continuously trained. These reserve officers constituted the principal available asset which we possessed at the time. Without these officers the successful rapid expansion of out Army would have been impossible.

In quantitative terms, the contribution of these reserve officers was indeed significant. A 1944 study of five combat divisions revealed that reservists constituted 34 percent of the total officer strength - 70 percent of all captains, 82 percent of all majors, 69 percent of all company commanders, and 50 percent of all battalion commanders.

But, as Lyons and Masland pointed out, the "mere availability" of approximately 100,000 officers at the beginning of the mobilizations did not make the pre-World War II ROTC program a success. Most ROTC graduates who did rise to positions of authority owed their accomplishments to the hard school of battlefield experience, not ROTC training. Junior officers commissioned through the ROTC, in fact, did not prove as immediately useful to the war effort as did OCS graduates.

At the beginning of hostilities, the Army Ground Forces (AGF) staff found two principal weak pints in the ROTC program system. First, it did not produce officers fast enough to meet demands. Second, its product was qualitatively inferior to the OCS product. "The three months of intensive training undergone in an officer candidate school under war conditions," an AGF memo stated, "is far superior to the full ROTC course." Another AGF document asserted that the ROTC graduate was neither a "first class leader" nor "tactically and technically proficient." One of the reasons for this qualitative inferiority, the authors of the document maintained, was that in the inter-war ROTC program, "theoretically training was stressed at the expense of the practical, largely because of the lack of the necessary facilities for carrying on practical instruction." An AGF study of officer production problems at the Infantry OCS found that "leadership deficiencies were far more common" among ROTC candidates than among candidates from other sources. The study attributed ROTC leadership defects to, among other things, the fact hat ROTC candidates "had on the whole received less practical military training than enlisted candidates" and to the fact that "ROTC men had not been screened for leadership to the same extent or on the same basis" as candidates from the enlisted ranks. AGF misgivings led to the suspension of the ROTC advanced course from 1942 through 1945. It was superseded by OCS programs. Only the basic course remained in place to facilitate the post-war reactivation of the ROTC.


After the conclusion of World War II, the Army moved quickly to reestablish ROTC in its pre-war image. Units were active on 129 campuses by September 1945. Despite the Army's attempts to reestablish ROTC, the program languished in the immediate post-war era. It did not approach the ambitious production goals set for it by the Department of the Army and retained, in stark contrast to the Naval ROTC program, a distinctly reserve orientation. Congress dealt a blow to the Army ROTC in 1946 when it rejected the Universal Military Training Bill, a measure that Army policy makers had counted upon to spur enrollment.

The period between World War II and the Korean Conflict was one of demobilization, downsizing, and shrinking military budgets. The competition for resources and personnel was fierce. The Army ROTC, with its ties to the reserves and amorphous command structure, fared poorly in this environment.

ROTC administrators faced many obstacles in the post-ear period - obstacles which, to a greater or lesser extent, had been with the program since it first appeared on college campuses in the autumn of 1916. One of these was instructor quality. Army personnel managers were reluctant to assign the ablest officers to a professional backwater like ROTC duty. The best leaders, it was felt, were needed for more critical positions (in troop units, high level staff positions, etc.). ROTC got the leftovers.

In addition, the most fundamental management devices were often absent or inadequate. Standard operating procedures for administration and training were practically nonexistent. Screening and selection procedures for admission into the advanced course and for attendance at advanced camp were primitive. Many cadets were sent to summer camp without physical examinations and found at their reception that they were medically unqualified to continue in ROTC. The evaluation tools used to measure cadet leadership ability and officer potential were just as crude. One officer, himself a graduate ROTC, labeled them "inadequate and unscientific" and likened them to "guess-work." A common complaint voiced by ROTC cadre was that they were inundated by paperwork. One observer alleged hat he administrative burden at unit level was so great that the cadre had little time left to take care of what was supposedly their major function - instruction.

Once again, many linked ROTC's ills to its fragmented and decentralized organizational structure. At the department of the Army level, the Organization and Training Division and the Personnel and Administration Division of the Army General Staff controlled those aspects of the program which fell into their respective areas of responsibility. The Office of the Executive for Reserve and ROTC Affairs (until 1954 when it was abolished) had various advisory, supervisory and liaison functions. Most of the other general administrative and technical services had an "ROTC desk" which handled matters relating to their particular area of concern. The size of this desk varied from one person, performing ROTC-related duties on a part-time basis, to several persons. No one staff division had responsibility for the overall conduct of the program.

The same situation was reflected at the intermediate level. In Army headquarters, duties and responsibilities were likewise parceled out among a number of staff sections. Although each Army headquarters was organized along with same lines, the number of people devoted to ROTC-related duties in each staff section varied widely among the armies, and there was no one staff section charged with overseeing the ROTC.


The year 1948 marked a watershed in the history of collegiate military education. During that year, several developments took place that foreshadowed ROTC's transformation from an institution whose primary purpose was to turn out reserve officers to one charged with producing the majority of active duty and career officers as well. The buildup of Cold War tensions caused Congress to pass the Selective Service Act in 1948, which encouraged tens of thousands of students to enroll in ROTC to enable them to fulfill their military obligation by serving as officers. They year of 1948 also witnessed congressional approval of the Distinguished Military Graduate Program, which awarded a limited number of regular Army commissions each year to the most highly qualified ROTC graduates. In that same year, a committee headed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray, concluded a study which explored the future role of the Army Reserve in the nation's defense. The Gray Committee recommended that the ROTC be renamed the "Army Officer Training Corps" and become the primary source of officers for the Army.

These developments reflected the growing feeling that the ROTC was, given prevailing conditions, the best available means of producing enough offices of the right type to lead America's Cold War Army. The need for a college-educated leader capable of understanding and employing increasingly sophisticated military technology, the predilection for an officer corps reared in the citizen-solder tradition and the pressure to keep the costs of officer production as low as possible all played a part in creating this sentiment.


ROTC enrollment was given a boost by the outbreak of the Korean War in June of 1950. Due to the U.S. government's decision to declare partial rather than full mobilization, the Army decided to rely on the ROTC, not OCS, to meet the needs o the emergency. The program immediately became more popular among college students because of the deferment if offered from the draft. University officials, fearing that enrollment at their institutions would be decimated by conscription, flooded the Army with applications for new units which gave additional impetus to ROTC expansion.

The creation of the Army Advisory panel on ROTC Affairs in 192 was another important milestone in the evolution of collegiate military education. Consisting of 12 civilian and six military educators, the panel provided a forum for the exchange of views between department of the Army and academic community. Upon its formation, the panel took up the task of articulating the program of "general military education" called for by the Service Academy Board in 1949. When the aid of education specialists, it drafted a curriculum outline which it labeled the General Military Science Program, for the purpose of establishing a common body of military knowledge that all prospective officers, regardless of future specialty, had to master before being commissioned. This so-called branch immaterial instruction emphasized (at the suggestion of the Chief of Army Field Forces, Gen. Mark W. Clark) small unit operations and consisted of 480 hours of on-campus instruction - 180 for the basic course and 300 for the advanced course. In the basic course cadets received an introduction to the Army and learned the fundamentals of drill and staff procedures, while in the advanced course they learned how to apply more advanced tactical techniques. During summer camp, cadets practiced individual military skills and received tactical training.

In the last year of the Korean War (1950-1953), the General Military Science Program was introduced on an experimental basis. The following year, it was offered as an alternative throughout the entire ROTC community. By 1960, over 80 percent of ROTC host institutions had adopted it. The adoption of the new curriculum allowed the Army to begin the gradual phasing out of branch specific summer training.

The revised curriculum, however, soon drew complaints from civilian educators. ROTC, these critics charged, now took up too much of a student's time. During the inter-war years, ROTC had not been such a time-consuming proposition. Military courses carried no academic credit at many colleges and, because cadets were only getting reserve commissions, military instruction often had little immediacy or urgency about it. The new time demands were closely bound up with the post-war transition of ROTC form an institution intended only to fill the ranks of the Organized Reserve Corps to one charged with producing the bulk of active duty officers. The new instructional and training regimen also had the effect of attraction more scrutiny to ROTC instruction, which many academic officials felt fell below college standards. Some suggested that a large portion of ROTC course work should be accomplished during the summer training. Such a shift in venue, they argued, would allow the cadet more time to study and at the same time receive more concentrated and effective military training.

Two members of the Army Advisory Panel in particular, Professors Lyons and Masland, emphasized the need for further curriculum reform. Part of the answer, they insisted, was to substitute courses offered by regular academic departments for military science courses whenever possible. Courses in management and communications, they pointed out, could be more effectively and conveniently taught by civilian academicians than by military officers who often did not have an appropriate academic background and who would be on campus for at most three year. Moreover, the policy of "academic substitution" would allow the civilian faculty to participate in the education of prospective officers - something the two panel members believed would act to liberalize cadets. Like many other, Lyons and Masland urged that the bulk of ROTC military training be conducted at summer camp. They held up the Marine Corps' Platoon Leader's Course, where all training was accomplished in the summer, as an example for the Army to emulate.

The adoption of the Modified General Military Science Program only partially mollified ROTC's critics on campus. The old complaints about the program's narrowness and supposed incompatibility with the pursuit of a baccalaureate degree continued unabated. In fact, it was while the new curriculum was being introduced that the movement to abolish compulsory ROTC at Land-Grant institutions gathered steam.

With the inevitable drawdown at he end of the Korean War, the Army found itself with a surplus of ROTC officers awaiting active duty. The Reserve Forces Act of 1955 represented an attempt to address this problem. It stipulated that Army ROTC graduates could be given a six-month active duty tour before being placed in one of the reserve components. Using this piece of legislation, the Army was able to gradually reduce its glut of junior officers and at he same time give most ROTC graduates a test of active duty.


By the early 1960's, signs pointing to the new importance of ROTC were clearly discernible, although not generally recognized by the American public or its Army. The Distinguished Military Graduate Program, approved by Congress in 1948, was now producing twice as many Regular Army officers annually as West Point (and had been since the mid-fifties). Moreover, fully 75 percent of the yearly contingent of active duty lieutenants came from the ROTC. It was also during this period that he first four-star ROTC generals appeared - Generals George H. Decker (Army Chief of Staff), Herbert B. Powell (Commander, Continental Army Command), and Isaac D. White (Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Pacific Command).

Nevertheless, the ROTC was still not living up to expectations. Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes, declared that the Army ROTC program was on a "downhill slide." Many questioned the quality of the product it was turning out, but its most serious shortcoming was seen as its inability to produce enough officers to meet demands. Army leaders wanted 14,000-15,000 new ROTC lieutenants annually, but ROTC could produce only 11,000-12,000.


To resolve the ROTC production shortfall, Army leaders came forward with an incentive package designed to attract more high quality cadets into the program. Its major features were a scholarship program, a larger subsistence allowance for cadets enrolled in the advanced course, and an abbreviated curriculum option intended to accommodate those students who did not enroll in ROTC as freshmen but who subsequently developed a desire to do so. This last feature, it was believed, would allow the Army to tap a heretofore unexploited segment of the student market - namely, the junior and community college population of he United States.

Congress acceded to the Army's requests and passed the Reserve Officers' Training Corps Vitalization Act 1964. This legislation authorized 5,500 two-year and four-year scholarships, raised the cadet monthly subsistence allowance from approximately $27 to $50, and introduced a two-year program. The new abbreviated program permitted a student who did not complete the basic course to enter the advanced course by attending a six-week basic camp during the summer before his junior year. It also mandated that all advanced course cadets enlist in the Army Reserve and serve either six months or two years on active duty upon commissioning.


While the Vitalization Act was still being debated, the Army's senior leaders resolved to upgrade the "organization for management" of the ROTC program. Otherwise, the belief was, the reforms introduced by the Vitalization Act would have little effect. Senior officers were particularly concerned about the decentralized nature of the ROTC management hierarchy and the localism that this engendered. Others called attention to the adverse effects of unit parochialism on ROTC operations. One commentator in an article that ran in a national magazine in 1963 wrote, "there seems to be no definite overall policy about important aspects of the program. The basis for selecting students for the ROTC and for keeping them in the program is different in each school. The same is true of the method of awarding the Distinguished Military Student classification."

Initially, the Army Chief of Staff tasked the ROTC Division within the Office of the Chief of Reserve Components, Department of the Army to study the problem. When that body returned a report with recommendations not to his liking, the Chief of Staff rejected it. He then directed the Comptroller General of the Army to conduct a comprehensive stud of the management of the ROTC/NDCC (National Defense Cadet Corps) program."

The Comptroller study found that ROTC management was fragmented at all organizational levels. Under the existing organization, the problem was at its most acute at Army headquarters, where the number of personnel devoted to ROTC matters was too few and the span of control over instructor groups was too wide. Campus operations were being managed, it appeared, by "remote control." Indeed, one general officer involved in the administration of the ROTC at the time contended that supervision by the armies was so insufficient that cases of embarrassing divergences from policies and objectives had become almost commonplace. The same source deplored the lack of support provided to the PMSs by the armies. "In looking to the large Army headquarters," he said, "the PMS is referred to several offices before getting the response he requires. A single home base, or focal point where the PMS can get an immediate understanding and useful response does not exist at most armies." The group of officers that conducted the study noted that a nonstandard organization rendered nonstandard results.

Things were almost as bad at the Department of the Army level, according to the report's authors. There, general staff responsibility for officer production programs was split among the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPEER), and the Chief of Reserve Components. The ROTC's close association with this last agency - it had a seven-person ROTC Division within it - was not, it was felt, a desirable state of affairs. The study group asserted that association and identification of the Army ROTC with the Army Reserve had caused the ROTC to receive a lower priority and less emphasis than it deserved as the primary source of officers for the active Army, regular and non-regular.

At Continental Army Command (CONARC) headquarters, an eight-person ROTC ranch within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Individual Training was responsible for coordinating ROTC affairs. The branch had been transferred there from the Reserve Components Division effective May 15, 1962, in an interim reorganization of CONARC headquarters. With such meager personnel assets, the branch could not provide the kind of detailed supervision that the comptroller's study group felt was necessary to put the ROTC program on a sound footing. The comptroller's report enumerated five alternatives to the existing ROTC management structure.

  1. A special staff agency at the Department of the Army
  2. A major command reporting directly to the Department
  3. A separate command under headquarters, CONARC
  4. An integrate staff/command t headquarters, CONARC, and
  5. The organizational status quo modified by augmenting the staffs at both CONARC and the Zone of the Interior Army Headquarters

Of the five alternatives, only the last two seem to have been seriously considered. Alternative three was patterned after the Air Force ROTC organization. It called for a separate command reporting directly to the commanding general, CONARC. Alternative four entailed the creation of a dual deputy chief of staff fro ROTC (DCSROTC)/ROTC Command in CONARC headquarters exercising operational control over the program. Under both alternatives, all ROTC units were to be withdrawn from the control of the Zone of the Interior Armies and subordinated to the ROTC commander or the DCSROTC/ROTC command. Control over ROTC units was to be exercised through area supervisors or area commandants, who were to be permanently stationed at CONARC headquarters.

The comptroller's report recommended alternative three, a separate command under CONARC, as the "best" solution to ROTC's organizational problem. This solution, the authors of the report maintained:

.features uniform, authoritative control over all ROTC/NDCC operations. It is in sharp contrast to the present, diverse, decentralized, loosely governed system. It provides a direct channel between the PMS and the directing authority. Policy, guidance, and support are thus made immediately available to the PMS, in a radical departure from the present multi-layered channel through which the PMS must find his way to get response to requests for information or to urgent needs for administrative and logistical support. The separate command under USCONARC establishes a clean, clear-cut command with a clearly defined mission to accomplish.

The results of adopting this solution, it was predicted, would be the long-sought standardization of the program and the bestowal upon the ROTC of the prestige which it had, up to that point, lacked.

The report rejected the dual DCSROTC/ROTC Command alternative. The principal objection to this alternative involved the "unconventional dual role of the commander." Such an arrangement, the report stated, "is prone to conflicts of interest and is inconsistent with accepted army patterns of organization."

When the comptroller's study was sent to the field for staffing, CONARC headquarters strenuously objected to the recommendation that a separate ROTC command be created. It took this position because it believed that a separate command would, in the words of one CONARC spokeswoman, "tend to divorce the ROTC program from t he mainstream of Army life. and degrade ROTC further in the eyes of the active Army. Moreover, under this concept, logistical and administrative support would be part of the commander's mission. We see this as an added disadvantage to the proposal."

A concern about the personnel requirements that the establishment of a separate command would inevitably entail also seems to have shaped the CONARC position.

In the end, the CONARC commanding general won the argument. The reorganization scheme that finally emerged resembled neither of the comptroller's two preferred alternatives. It did, however, make two major changes in the way ROTC was managed. At the Department of the Army level, the ROTC function was transferred from the Chief of Reserve Components to the DCSPER, effective July 1, 1966. An ROTC branch consisting of 18 persons was incorporated into the Office of the DCSPER's RUO Division. This division then assumed responsibility for policy and program matters pertaining to all three commissioning sources - ROTC, the Military Academy, and OCS.

The second and more significant change was the shift of operational responsibility for the program from the Department of the Army to CONARC, effective Jan. 1, 1967. The latter headquarters thus became the focal point for ROTC - or at least as close to a focal point as existed during this period. To exercise its newly acquired authority, CONARC elevated the ROTC division within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Individual Training to directorate status, placed a brigadier general at its head, and raised its strength from eight to 60 persons. While the increased personnel authorization seemed generous, it was substantially less then the augmentation that would have been necessary to create an independent ROTC command or an Office of the DCSROTC - 60 v. 142 and 89 respectively.

CONARC attempted to standardize ROTC operations at army headquarters by providing them with a model staff organization as a guide. Unfortunately for CONARC, the armies largely ignored this model. According to Col. Edward Chalgren, deputy director of the ROTC/NDCC directorate, each Army headquarters engaged its own local "experts" t engineer an organization to its own liking.

One Army created an Office of the DCSROTC, another directed the ROTC through an ROTC division within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, another placed its ROTC division within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reserve Forces and yet another within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Training. With such an organization, standardization was impossible.

The impact of the reorganization initiative on the program was not great, at last in the near term. It is true that as a result of this initiative, the ROTC was identified more closely with the Active Army at the Department of the army level than previously and that the CONARC staff section responsible for coordinating ROTC affairs received substantial augmentation, however, the basic organizational structure remained pretty much the same and things continued to operate pretty much as before.


The undeclared war in Vietnam entangled the ROTC in a controversy of an intensity unparalleled in the programs history. Concerns about he draft as well as the cost an morality of the war turned many college students and faculty members into virulent opponents of the American involvement in Vietnam. As the only visible sign of the Army on campus, ROTC became the "lightning rod" for anti-war sentiment. Anti-ROTC demonstrations became commonplace and, on some university campuses, acts of violence, vandalism, and arson were directed against ROTC instructors and facilities.

During this time of turmoil, many universities reevaluated the desirability and appropriateness of retaining ROTC. Some of this institutional introspection can be attributed to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, but some reflected a genuine concern about the quality and substance of ROTC instruction. Nine universities, including some of the most prestigious, decided to discontinue their connection with the program, while others reduced or eliminated academic credit for military science courses. The abolition of ROTC units at elite institutions along the eastern seaboard was more than offset, quantitatively at least, by the creation of additional detachments at state institutions in the South and West. The trend away from elite schools, however, worried some Department of Defense officials. They feared that the average quality of ROTC student would drop and that the social balance of the Army officer corps would be upset. There were other officials and officers who were glad to see the Army sever relations with the schools which, in their opinion, had never been avid supporters of the military in any case.

Faced with such widespread and diverse opposition to ROTC, the Defense Department buckled and agreed to reexamine the design and administration of the program with the intent of making the collegiate training curriculum more relevant to the needs of the student. Taking his cue from a recommendations submitted to him by the Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird set up a committee to review the ROTC curriculum and suggest ways to make the program fit less obtrusively into the academic community. In June 199 he appointed Dr. George C.S. Benson, former President of Claremont Colleges and long time supporter of the ROTC, to chair the committee.

Even before the report of the Benson Committee was published, the Army introduced a fourth curriculum option, the military Science Core Curriculum or Option C. Many of the old ideas about collegiate military training advanced by Lyons and Masland in the 1950s were reflected in the new option. Two widely voiced criticisms of the ROTC curricula were that they were too vocationally oriented and that they were not challenging enough academically. ROTC texts, one student commented, were written "by and for cretins." Option C, it was hoped, would eliminate these problems by integrating military instruction more closely with that of regular academic departments and relegating to summer camp those subjects undeserving of academic credit.

Option C went further toward diluting the military content of ROTC than any previous initiative. It reduced the required number of military contact hours in the advanced course to 120 - down to 43 percent from the 210 hours mandated in the Modified General Military Science curriculum introduced in 1960, and specified that 180 of the total 390 hours of the program could be filled with regular academic subjects believed to be of value to the future officer. The new liberal approach to pre-commissioning training quickly caught on among institutions that hosted ROTC units. Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the Army Chief of Staff gave expression to the direction that the ROTC was taking in a letter he wrote to CONARC Commanding General in May 1969:

Many, to include some senior officers as well as junior, will find it difficult to accept the fact hat we no longer expect ROTC to provide trained platoon leaders. Instead, we expect the program to produce well-educated men with high moral standards who are motivated toward service and who have only a minimum of military training, but who have the potential to become junior officers of high quality.

The deemphasis of the "purely military" aspects of ROTC instruction may have made the program more acceptable to some of its critics on campus, but it did nothing to improve the ROTC cadet's orientation to the military profession. In fact, the demilitarization of curriculum placed ROTC cadets in a more disadvantageous position than their more thoroughly trained OCS and West Point counterparts. Even before the advent of Option C, CONARC historical records indicate the ROTC did not do a uniformly good job of preparing cadets for their future roles. One junior officer of that era complained that when he and dome of his ROTC associates entered the Army, they found themselves woefully unprepared for their jobs. "We were just a bunch of civilians with uniforms," he said. Option C only made the situation worse. It was no surprise to many officers who were familiar with ROTC that an Army review board in the early 1970s found that of the three major commissioning sources, ROTC did the poorest job in preparing its charges for their first assignment.

Support within the Army for this demilitarization of the program was not universal. An ad hoc committee of officers, convened on the occasion of the Sixth Annual CONARC ROTC conference in 1968, expressed concern about the direction the program was taking. It warned that things had gone far enough and should be allowed to proceed no farther.

Senior officers became defensive about charges that the military component of ROTC was being emasculated. Brig. Gen. Melvin A. Goers, Chief of the ROTC directorate of CONARC headquarters, felt compelled to assure ROTC cadre in 1970 that CONARC was "certainly not going to prostitute any of the principles that we hold dear in the military" in promoting Option C and other liberal policies.


The period of transition from a conscript to an all-volunteer military establishment in the early 1970s was a trying time for the three services. All officer production sources faced new and imposing challenges but those that confronted the Army ROTC were especially daunting. ROTC production problems surfaced well before the Vietnam drawdown. As early as the spring of 1967, Army leaders found themselves faced with a choice between "adequate procurement" and "adequate military training" - a dilemma they resolved by opting for adequate procurement. One undersecretary of the Army summed the matter up quite succinctly:

Adequate procurement and adequate military training prior to graduation are not both obtainable under current conditions. Since we cannot train unless we first procure, procurement takes precedent where there is conflict. And, given the trends in American education, we cannot expect in the foreseeable future to met our ROTC requirements without deferring some of the military training and motivational aspects of an ROTC officer's education to the post-commissioning period.

In the years that followed, the dilemma became more acute. Despite the emphasis placed on recruiting and building an adequate production base, ROTC enrollment plummeted by 75 percent (from 165,430 to 41,294) between school year 1967-1968 and school year 1972-1973. The end of conscription certainly played a role in this decline. So too, according to Brig. Gen. Milton E. Key, chief of CONARC's ROTC directorate in 1972, did the virtual elimination of compulsory ROTC and the "apathetic enrollment policies of many PMSs." The legacy of Vietnam appears to have weighed heavily on many cadre members. They were reluctant to become to visible on campus.


To boost sagging officer production (especially reserve officer production because the reserve components had difficult time filling their officer ranks after Vietnam) and to improve program management, Army leaders introduced a new command structure for the ROTC in 1973. The new arrangements came about as part of the post-Vietnam "Steadfast" reorganization, which replaced CONARC and the U.S. Army Combat Development of the Army promised, would eliminate the "layering and span of control deficiencies" that had plagued the old system.

In the intra-Army discussion that preceded the Steadfast reorganization, calls for the creation of a separate ROTC command were heard and rejected. Once again, it's appeared that the personnel costs associated with such an organizational solution were considered excessive. Instead, a weakened version of one of the alternative advanced by the comptroller's study group in 1965 was adopted - the creation of an Office of the DCSROTC at TRADOC level. In its 1973 form, the ROTC chief was to be the TRADOC DCSROTC, and not, as the study group recommended, the DCSROTC/ROTC commander. A major general headed the new office, which was essentially the old CONARC ROTC directorate with a different name. It was approximately the same size (about 60 personnel) and, except for the addition of budgeting and automatic data processing responsibilities, performed the same functions.

Below TRADOC, Army area commands were replaced by four ROTC region commands. A brigadier general, assisted by a headquarters element of 85 people, commanded each region. This officer supervised on-campus ROTC activities with in his assigned geographical sector and conducted an annual summer camp. Regions were further divided into geographical divisions or areas, each of which was commanded by a colonel operating from the region headquarters. The authors of the final Steadfast plan were convinced that he region commands would provide the ROTC program with a dedicated mid-level supervisory capability to effect "a standardization of control and management" of ROTC instructor groups and an organization that could furnish "close year-round coordination" with installation commanders for summer camp planning.

Close year-round coordination with installation commanders for summer camp planning seemed to have been considered of particular importance. The nature of coordination that program administrators had in mind had two aspects. First it was thought necessary that the person in charge of each advanced camp be a general officer. The old system, in which the senior colonel/PMS in the Army area served as camp commander, did not work, or at least in the opinion of many senior officers, did not work well. It would take the presence of a general officer to give the camp the prestige and emphasis it needed to deserved. Gen. Westmoreland, during his tenure as Army Chief of Staff, told the CONARC commander that "ROTC summer camps are of such major importance that we should consider selecting other than professors of military science to be in charge of each advanced camp site."

The second aspect of the close year-round coordination had to do with the issue of camp continuity. A CONARC-convened ad hoc committee for basic and advanced camps reported in October 1969 that he "lack of continuity" in the prevailing camp system "requires that special measure be taken to preserve the experience of each year's camp for the benefit of the next." The maintenance of a "full-time, permanent party advanced camp planning staff at he camp site," a measure that a few armies had already implemented on their own initiative by 1969, was one means recommended by the committee to ensure the necessary continuity.

The call for the appointment of a general officer as the commander of each camp and the recommendation for the establishment of a full-time, year-round planning staff at each camp site were both incorporated into the final Steadfast plan.

While the new organization represented progress of a sort, it was not the organizational panacea many had hoped it would be. The new head of the program (the DCSROTC) was just another staff officer with in TRADOC headquarters. He posses neither the status nor prerogatives of a commander. Instead of commanding the ROTC regions, he exercised "operational control" over them. The DCSROTC, like all staff officers, possessed only the authority he derived from his commander - a situation that made the health of the program fairly dependent on the personal rapport that existed between the two men.

The new organizational setup meant that summer camps, like virtually every other aspect of the ROTC program, would continue to operate in a fragmented and highly diversified manner. True, the presence of permanent staff at each camp site provided for better coordination and greater continuity but the goal of brining across the board uniformity to the advancedcamp system remained a distant goal.


Certain steps were taken during his era to spur recruiting and attract high-caliber students to ROTC. In 1971, Congress raised the cadet subsistence allowance form $50 to $100 per month and increased scholarship authorizations form 5,500 to 6,500. Nine years later (1980), with the ROTC still falling short of its assigned production objectives, Congress boosted the number of scholarships again, to 12,000.

Some non-monetary incentives took form of special training programs designed to make the program more exciting. Cadets attended Airborne School for the first time in 1970. A two-day reconnaissance and Commando Doughboy (RECONDO) Course was incorporated into advanced camp in 1971. In the same year, selected cadets were permitted to attend Ranger School in lieu of advanced camp. The Army Orientation Training Program (renamed Cadet Troop Leader Training in 1979) was introduced the following year. Based on the Military Academy model, it allowed cadets to serve as apprentice junior officers in active military units. Later, the Air Assault and Northern Warfare Courses (1979), Flight Orientation/Training (1982), and the Russian Language Course (1983) were added as training options.

A number of other special program in the post-Vietnam ear focused on recruiting for the reserve components. The Early Commissioning Program initiated in 1966 for military junior colleges, was broadened in 1979 to accommodate cadets who had completed all ROTC requirements but still had not received their undergraduate degree. It gave them a reserve commission and allowed them to serve in reserve units. The Simultaneous Membership Program permitted advanced course cadets to serve as officer trainees in reserve component units and receive the drill pay of a sergeant. Beginning in school year 1983-1984, 5,000 Guaranteed reserve Forces Duty contracts were reserved annually for cadets whose interest in the military extended only to the reserves.

The admission of women into the ROTC was another boon to enrollment. After a successful test at 10 school during school year 1972-1973, the entire program was opened to female participation in the fall of 1973. Within two years, women accounted for over 29 percent of ROTC enrollment.

Perhaps the most ambitious and fateful program undertaken to increase officer production was the "Expand the Base" (ETB) initiative introduced at the end of the 1970s. Its goal was to boost annual output to 10,500 by 985 ("ten-five by eight-five" was the slogan coined to popularize the goal throughout the ROTC community). This was to be accomplished by creating more units. Over 100 extension centers and 36 host institutions were to be established by the end of FY 1983. Although the ETB did not reach its stated objective, it did result in a substantial expansion of the program. Between FY 1978 and FY 1983, the number of ROTC units shot up by 40 percent (from 297 to 416).

The DCSROTC had attempted to raise production in the mid-1970s by creating extension centers. He enjoyed only limited success because they Army refused to give him more than 1,500 officers he already had assigned. In the ETB, the TRADOC commander and his DCSROTC detoured around this roadblock by tapping the reserve component for the additional officers needed to staff eh new units. Originally, one active Guard/Reserve officer was authorized for each host unit. Later, this number was doubled. By the mid-1980s, almost 630 reserve officers were authorized to serve in ROTC detachments on a full-time basis. Not everyone in the reserves appreciated this arrangement, but the TRADOC commander and his DCSROTC though it was appropriate given the fact that most of the additional production would go into on of the reserve components.


This massive infusion of money, time, and personnel into the program did obtain results. Enrollment along with the number of cadets commissioned annually rose steadily in the decade after Vietnam. Unfortunately, production did not increase enough to meet Army requirements and much of the increase that did occur was achieved at the expense of quality.

William Snyder, associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University and former PMS at Princeton, gave an overview of the major problems that beset the ROTC in an article he wrote in the mid-1970s. His comments tell the same story as the DSCROTC historical summaries, although his comments are less constrained. The picture he painted was not a complimentary one.

ROTC graduates, he asserted were less well prepared than the products of other commissioning sources for their first assignment, being "particularly deficient in the degree of familiarity with the overall scope of service activities.' He attributed some of the program's shortcomings to its emphasis on the acquisition of basic military skills and its focus on turning out large numbers of short service officers.

Also detrimental to the quality of ROTC training, Snyder believed, was the small size of many ROTC units. The existence of small and uneconomical units had been a problem since the very inception of the program, but with the end of the draft, coupled with the virtual abolition of compulsory programs in the early 1970s the problem became more acute than ever before. By 1975, over half of all units recorded an enrollment of less than 100/ this reduced the effectiveness of much on-campus training and made it difficult for the cadet in a small program to get "a meaningful leadership experience." It was a situation that would grow worse over the next decade as the number of small, inefficient, and uneconomical units proliferated under "Expand the Base."

Various active Army observers gave pessimistic appraisals of the ROTC product. Maj. Gen. Charles C. Rogers, DCSROTC from September 1975 to November 1978 was not enthusiastic about the quality of students being admitted into the program. In a letter dated April 20, 1977, he upbraided the four region commanders for enrolling personnel who "clearly do not have what it takes to be an officer." The practice of enrolling students with a criminal record particularly disturbed him. In 1978, a Department of the Army sponsored study group concluded that "intelligence standards" in the Army ROTC were "inadequate." In 1980, TRADOC's Deputy Commanding General, Lt. Gen. William R. Richardson, complained to the DSCROTC, Brig. Gen. Daniel W. French, about how low ROTC commissioning standards were and expressed the hope that with recent gains in enrollment, TRADOC could be more careful in its selection for commission.


After the Vietnam War, there was a general consensus among senior Army leaders that something had to be done to improve training. To further this end, the Army introduced the systems approach to training in the 1970s. The new approach consisted of "performance based instruction" in which subjects were broken down into a number of specific tasks, each of which had to be performed to a prescribed standard. The old lecture-demonstration-practice training format was replaced by one which was performance oriented and required student hands-on involvement.

Other initiatives that concentrated strictly on officer development were also undertaken in the post-Vietnam era. In 1978, the Review of Education and Training for Officers (RETO) board convened to develop a uniform system for educating and training Army officer. The RETO group discovered that the four commissioning sources (Military Academy, ROTC, OCS, and National Guard OCS) followed very different agendas and shared few common standards. To remedy this condition, the group recommended the adoption of the Military Qualification Standards system by all four sources. This system specified the basic knowledge and skills each officer was to possess at each stage of his professional development. By the early 1980s, the Military Qualifications Standard I, a revised version of the 1970 Option C Program, became the single common curriculum for the entire pre-commissioning education and training community.

The RETO boards also determined that ROTC desperately needed an assessment instrument that could objectively measure cadet leadership ability. TRADOC introduced the Army Pre-commissioning Assessment System (PAS) in the early 1980s to address this need. The PAS consisted of nine interrelated parts and formed he basis of a screening and selection process that began prior to enrollment and extended through commissioning. An important component of the PAS was the Leadership Assessment Program (LAP). Introduced in 1980, the LAP measured 12 leadership dimensions (which Cadet Command later expanded to 16) by having cadets participate in a variety of behavioral simulations hat replicated situation they might encounter as army officers. In its original form, LAP behavioral situations featured garrison rather than field settings. The ROTC cadre were trained to look for and evaluate the critical performance indicators of each dimension.

The programs set in motion by the RETO board represented a step forward in pre-commissioning education and training, at least on the theoretical plane. Their practical value was, however, strictly limited. Like previous efforts to reform collegiate military training, these programs were essentially task-oriented. They focused on the mastery of basic military skills and acquisition of certain bits of knowledge and neglected the far more important area of leadership development. ROTC's unconventional organization prevented even uniformity in task-oriented training from being realized. The overhaul of the ROTC needed an organizational architecture to tap the potential of initiates like Military Qualification Standard I.