07 March 2011

Militarism Isn't All About Militarism

Columbia University is twisting itself up trying to figure out if ROTC should have a place there.

When an Iraq War veteran stood up to support ROTC at a public hearing at the Ivy League school a few weeks ago, he was heckled, reinforcing the perception that elite universities are simply anti-military.

Militarism has no place in an elite university, some say.

Well, this is not your father's militarism. The United States military may be a lumbering institution, slow to change; but it can be very quick to adapt too.

Consider the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Service members (including me) received a memo from the Secretary of Defense that stated:
"This is not, however, a change that should be done incrementally. The steps leading to certification and actual repeal must be accomplished across the entire department at the same time, and consistent with the standards of military readiness..."
The Army culture, then, can be slow to adapt to changing times. But when an order is issued, the entire Army must respond as a matter of national security. Over the last 40 years, since some universities banned ROTC in an anti-war tantrum, the Department of Defense has ordered innumerable changes. The militarism of today is no longer just weapons training and combat tactics.

What does the Army teach, beyond fighting? For one, preparedness. This is the most important aspect of military training. A Soldier (and a student and citizen, for that matter) must be ready to act. That requires he know the situation, terrain, players, and different courses of action ahead of time.

Leadership is also a key component of learning how to become a Soldier. One might think that would appeal to the likes of elite universities, who see their role as training leaders. The Army shows its learners how to analyse and act decisively, and to make sure subordinates are set up to succeed.

Ironically, properly trained Army leaders will find ways to avert bloodshed. Good combat leaders will advise their civilian superiors on the best way to accomplish military ends that cost the least in blood. Many college educated Army officers end up serving in civilian capacities.

Ultimately, since war begins where politics fails, we should encourage our democratic leaders to have the most well-rounded training they possibly can.

It might sound crazy to those opposed to any form of military, yet is there a difference between it and firefighting, for instance? Because someone trains to fight fires, does that make him long to see fires break out so he can use his skills?
"I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation."
Those words of President Obama, delivered in his State of the Union speech, are falling on too many deaf ears.

The militarism of today's ROTC should be a welcome addition to any higher education program.


  1. Wow, I even agree with the president on this one....
    Maybe public hearing should be held about the government research grants, Pell Grants, etc. that go to the universities banning ROTC and recruitment on their campuses.

  2. I paid careful attention to this aspect of the State of the Union. Another request of President Obama also advised that businesses and their owners create more opportunities for returning soldiers to either get jobs, or help ease their burdens financially, which I do not see them doing, at least in my current line of work.
    I still do not think the benefits that are in place for soldiers or servicemen/women are up to par. I believe the perks should be increased for those who serve in the name of the country.