Saturday, September 17, 2005

JROTC-What Is It Good For?

By Oskar Castro, American Friends Service Committee

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp has been around for almost 90 years. At the time of its inception it was designed to train young boys in a militaristic fashion in order to prepare them for eventual service into the military.

Much has changed in the United States since 1916 and JROTC has also undergone some changes. The Department of Defense no longer classifies JROTC as a readiness program. It now classifies it as a program designed to instill discipline, teach citizenship and encourage academic success. Despite these claims, JROTC is still very much a readiness program that assists the military in shaping the minds of elementary & high school aged children into thinking that the military is a sacred cow and an excellent career choice.

Past statistics from the Department of Defense indicated that JROTC cadets with two or more years of JROTC involvement had a 45%-50% rate of enlistment after graduation from high school. Now the Department of Defense claims that only 3%-4% of cadets enter the military after graduation from high school, but what this statistic actually reflects is the amount of former cadets who enter the military IMMEDIATELY after graduation. The 45%-50% rate of enlistment was an overall statistic indicating that over time those former cadets were finding their way into the military.

Regardless of the rate of enlistment, JROTC is a problem for those who value a civil society over a militarized one. With the Department of Defense getting over 400 billion dollars and the Department of Education only getting a little over 50 billion dollars it is no small wonder that the military is able to waltz into schools challenged by their academic & economics woes and offer them a program that alleged to be able to fix their problem. With civil values being replaced by militaristic ones, JROTC moves this nation and its youth ever further away from democracy. The military does not practice democracy and therefore it could never adequately teach our youth to become better citizens of this democratic republic. Making young people wear military uniforms in public schools, encouraging them to follow rank & file, and putting them in classrooms with uniformed instructors is all designed to serve the military. If a cadet graduates from high school then that is just icing on the cake for the program because you can’t enlist without a diploma or certificate anyway.

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