Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf has linked to my response to President Obama’s recent remarks on the ROTC (provoked by this Andrew Exum post). Reading his summary of our discussion, I’m afraid I came off as unduly pessimistic. While the challenges for an expanded ROTC are great—and will require real leadership from the president, the military, and universities—we have an incredible opportunity right now to restore ROTC to some of the nation’s most prestigious campuses. Indeed, the current moment likely represents the best opportunity advocates for ROTC and better civil-military relations have had in decades.
Top leadership, both civilian and military, are speaking out about the costs of current policy—first, Secretary Gates, then Admiral Mullen, and now President Obama. With the repeal of DADT, Harvard and Yale—students, faculty, and administrators—have expressed their strong support for restoring ROTC. Columbia has a group of committed advocates among its student body, and more than 300 undergraduates who are veterans, which can only help ROTC’s cause when hearings start next month. Even Brown University, with just one student in ROTC, is reconsidering its stance. In short, while there are many factors working against ROTC (perhaps, primarily, plain old inertia), even more are working in its favor.
Cheryl Miller is manager of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship.