History of rotc introduction

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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.

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