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ROTC

ROTC —the Reserve Officers Training Corps—is the program for training students in American universities, colleges, high schools, and academies to serve as officers in the U.S. armed forces. Since World War II it has provided the majority of active duty and reserve officers, particularly junior officers, for the armed forces.

Although the ROTC program was established in 1916, the idea of obtaining military officers from civilian institutions dates back to the citizen‐soldiers of the colonial militia units. In the new republic, while the federal government founded its own military and naval academies for officering the regular forces, and a few states had private military academies, most officers in the state militias (later National Guard) and the ad hoc wartime units of volunteers were civilians temporarily in uniform. Their preparation came from prior military experience, militia membership, or simply by reading military manuals.

The Civil War expansion of the army showed the need for a more widespread training of such citizen‐officers. The idea of including military training in public colleges was incorporated into the Morrill Act of 1862, which granted public lands for the establishment of colleges and provided that military tactics should be offered as part of the curriculum in these land‐grant institutions. The federal government provided some funding and the War Department assigned some active duty or retired officers as professors of military science and tactics. By 1893, some seventy‐nine colleges and universities provided such military instruction, varying by state or institution as to whether it was voluntary or compulsory for male students. Between 1865 and 1919, West Point continued to be the main source of commissioned officers for the regular army. The graduates who had taken military courses at the land‐grant colleges were neither commissioned nor registered with the War Department.

The growing size of armies and the emergence of the United States as an active world power in the early twentieth century led some military planners, businesspeople, and college presidents to advocate a regularized system of commissioning reserve officers from the citizenry. In 1913, Gen. Leonard Wood, the army chief of staff, with several college presidents established summer military training camps for college students. After the outbreak of World War I, these formed the model for summer military training camps, held at Plattsburg, New York, and elsewhere in 1915 and 1916, for some 13,000 business and professional men. General Wood, former President Theodore Roosevelt, and former Secretary of War Elihu Root obtained federal funding for the camps and the commissioning of their graduates in the army's new Officers Reserve Corps.

The National Defense Act of 1916 also authorized the creation of a campus‐based Reserve Officers Training Corps in its modern form. Students would take a two‐year basic course plus a two‐year advanced course; in addition to their regular academic courses, they would also participate in summer field training, and some would be eligible for scholarships and living allowances. Those who completed the four‐year program would become commissioned officers with the regulars or the reserves. U.S. entry into the war in 1917 came as ROTC was just being established. Although ROTC provided some wartime officers, the majority came from the enlisted ranks of the regular army and National Guard, from Plattsburg camp graduates, and from civilians who went through ninety‐day officer training camps established by the army during the war. Reserve officers provided 43 percent of the World War I officers, yet the army still obtained only half the 200,000 officers it desired to lead 3.5 million men.

Because the war had demonstrated the shortage of pretrained citizen‐officers, the National Defense Act of 1920 expanded the two main programs for preparing reserve officers: the summer camp–oriented Civilian Military Training Corps and the larger, campus‐based ROTC. By 1928, there were ROTC units in 225 colleges and universities, 100 high schools and academies, with a total enrollment of 85,000 students. ROTC commissioned about 6,000 graduates each year. In addition, the U.S. Navy created Naval ROTC (NROTC) in 1926 with the units initially at six colleges and universities.

In the antiwar and antimilitary mood of the 1920s and early 1930s, peace activists, educators, and clergy, including John Dewey and Oswald Garrison Villard, formed the Committee on Militarism in Education, to challenge ROTC and military drill programs in high schools. The committee was more successful at the secondary schools than in higher education, for the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to make military training compulsory in state colleges.

With the adoption of the draft and the buildup of the army in 1940–41, ROTC graduates provided many of the required junior officers. During American participation in World War II, as the army expanded to 8.3 million men and women, the largest number of officers came from the enlisted ranks and received three to four months' training at Officer Candidate Schools run by the army. About 120,000 also came through ROTC, but the wartime army fell far short of its desired quota of officers. The navy and Marines obtained wartime officers through NROTC units at two dozen colleges and universities plus special officer training programs at dozens of schools.

Since World War II, ROTC has been the primary source of officers for all the armed forces. (A separate air force ROTC program, AFROTC, was established in 1947.) During the Korean War, 70 percent of the 26,800 lieutenants called to active duty by the army between 1951 and 1953 were ROTC graduates. The program also supplied a high percentage of the junior officers for the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s. Even though the compulsory basis of ROTC had been ended at all public institutions after 1961, the unpopularity of the Vietnam War led to protests and demonstrations on many campuses against the program. Still, in 1968 there were 150,000 students in the initial two‐year course. Antiwar and antimilitary sentiment led several colleges and universities to drop their ROTC units.

In the 1980s, however, the number of units grew again, and by the end of the decade, there were army ROTC units at 300 colleges and 800 high schools, AFROTC at 150 colleges and 300 high schools, and NROTC at 65 colleges and 230 high schools. A smaller military in the post‐Vietnam and post–Cold War eras required fewer officers. The ROTC programs of the army, navy, and air force had a total enrollment of about 100,000 students in the 1990s.
[See also Air National Guard; Army Reserves and National Guard; Education, Military; Marine Corps Reserve; Militia and National Guard; National Defense Acts (1916, 1920); Naval Reserve; Service Academies.]

Bibliography

Gene M. Lyons and and John W. Masland , Education and Military Leadership: A Study of the R.O.T.C., 1959; 2nd ed., 1975.
John Garry Clifford , The Citizen Soldiers: The Plattsburg Training Camp Movement, 1913–1920, 1972.
Robert F. Collins , Reserve Officers Training Corps, 1986.
Martin Binkin and and William W. Kaufman , U.S. Army Guard and Reserve, 1989.

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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John Whiteclay Chambers II. "ROTC." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

John Whiteclay Chambers II. "ROTC." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. (July 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O126-ROTC.html

John Whiteclay Chambers II. "ROTC." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O126-ROTC.html

ROTC

ROTC / ˈrätsē/ • abbr. (in the U.S.) Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

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"ROTC." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"ROTC." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-rotc.html

ROTC

ROTC

ROTC. See Reserve Officers' Training Corps .

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"ROTC." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401803655.html

ROTC

ROTC (USA) Reserve Officers' Training Corps

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FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "ROTC." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "ROTC." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. (July 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O25-ROTC.html

FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "ROTC." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O25-ROTC.html

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