ROTC program headed in the right direction
In response to possible nationwide program closures, the U.S. Army has instituted a new annual program review for the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
New program criteria will allow A-State time to continue to develop its existing program and push the number of commissioned graduates even higher.
“A-State now has the opportunity to show the Army what Arkansans already know, that A-State has a quality program that commissions great Army officers,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman, long-time supporter of ASU’s ROTC. “A-State, the community and the entire Arkansas delegation will make sure that the Army hears that message loud and clear.”
Along with production of commissioned officers the new review process also takes into account the academics, geographic value, cost, infrastructure and quality of ROTC programs.
The additional evaluation standards will allow smaller programs to continue to function based upon their host institution’s investment in the program, the level of geographic importance associated with the program location, consistent graduation of officers with STEM-related degrees or the ethnic variety demonstrated in the program.
In general, programs must produce an average of at least 10-15 commissioned officers each year or meet additional eligibility requirements in order to be considered viable. Non-viable programs will be re-evaluated for consideration as extension centers for ROTC recruits.
“This essentially marks a reset for the Army’s process of evaluating ROTC programs, how they fit into the Army’s goals as well as their ability to achieve the mission that the Army has given them,” Boozman said.
A-State’s program is unique in the nation, being home to the only exclusively ROTC residence hall on a university campus. The Red Wolf Battalion also enjoys one of the three largest training and teaching facilities in the U.S. The university has supported ROTC through the creation of a rappel tower, field leadership recreation and obstacle course, and a fully equipped indoor shooting range.
In October of last year, A-State’s ROTC faced a 2015 closure by the Army. Closing the program would have forced first and second year cadets to drop out of the program or to transfer to different universities to complete their military schooling.
U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, together with Congressman Rick Crawford, placed an administrative hold on the closing in November and allowed ASU ROTC additional time to receive updated program evaluation requirements from the Army.
According to a Jan. 31 letter to ROTC from Karl Schneider, acting assistant secretary of the Army, existing ROTC programs must meet viability standards within 12-24 months or face the possibility of closing within two years after the deadline.
Schneider said, “In such cases, U.S. Army Cadet Command will work closely with the affected school to ensure any impacted cadets are fully counseled on their options. U.S. Army Cadet Command will make every effort to take care of all cadets by offering alternatives for their commissioning.”
ROTC staff and cadets will continue to make improvements in the program to ensure the best result for the Red Wolf Battalion.
“This isn’t the end of the road for A-State but it’s a positive development as we fight to keep its ROTC program strong,” Pryor said. “A-State has made smart investments in its program that I’m confident will pay off as the Army conducts its review. This is a team effort and I look forward to supporting A-State as we continue to move through this process.”
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