DADT & ROTC

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Obama and McCain recently called on Ivy League universities that do not offer ROTC military officer training programs to rethink their position.

A short opinion piece, "Obama and McCain v. Ivy League," in the Wall Street Journal criticized Ivy League schools for refusing ROTC programs, and pointed out that "Five of the eight Ivy League schools kicked out ROTC in the wake of the Vietnam War. Today only Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania allow America's future military leaders to get their instruction on campus."

The U.S. military has suffered the consequences of its policies before and is finding again that the ban on openly gay service known as "don't ask, don't tell [DADT] is harming the military's reputation. "Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who led the fight against ROTC in 2005, says the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy constitutes "improper discrimination and humiliation" of homosexuals."

The debate over whether the existence of the DADT policy is a reason to bar ROTC from campus is another example of the on-going impact of the policy on the military's reputation.

A study the Palm Center published earlier this year in the military journal Armed Forces and Society, used empirical research to show that the policy has harmed the military's reputation.

SEE: "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': Does the Gay Ban Undermine the Military's Reputation."

This article asks what impact, if any, the "don't ask, don't tell"policy might have on the U.S. military's reputation. Original empirical research is presented to suggest that the policy harms the military's reputation in four ways: the policy is inconsistent with public opinion, it prompts many journalists to criticize the armed forces while attract-ing almost no favorable media coverage, it provides a vehicle for antimilitary protesters to portray military culture as conflicting with widely accepted civilian values, and it is inconsistent with the views of junior enlisted service members.

Jeanne Scheper, Reseach Director, Palm Center

Comments

University Recruiting

Military recruiters are meeting most of their officer recruting goals, with the exception of healthcare professions and some engineers. The Ivy League ban isn't "hurting" the military but it certainly isn't helping either. I hope the bans continue since it sends the right message to military leadership.

Debate Continues: JROTC and Military Recruiting of Youth

San Francisco could become the first city to remove a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program and gay students are on both sides of the debate. According to an AP report, "Some gay and lesbian student groups have come out in support of JROTC and the ballot measure, saying some of their members have found a home in the program." While others oppose JROTC, citing the war in Iraq and the Pentagon's disciminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy. 

The Associated Press recently reported that "If the aim is recruitment, JROTC in San Francisco is a failure," since "only two of the 1,465 cadets there signed up for the armed forces after graduation in 2006-2007, the latest year for which numbers are available."

Yet, nationwide participation in JROTC is steadily increasing with additional funding approved by Congress and a waiting iist of schools wanting to participate.

The same report notes that "The ACLU intervened in cases where entire classes were enrolled in JROTC without giving students a choice, or where cash-strapped schools used JROTC to substitute for physical education, said Jennifer Turner, a researcher with the group's Human Rights Program." Turner points out that "The United States is unique in the world in having this type of program that targets kids as young as 14 operating in public school, where students sometimes don't even have a choice," she said. "It is apparent that the JROTC program is a recruiting tool."

While some gay and lesbian students seek to participate in JROTC, some oppose JROTC both because of the military's DADT policy and/or because they oppose any military recruitment and presence in public schools.

Jeanne Scheper, Ph.D.

Research Director

Palm Center

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