SecDef Gates on ROTC


10-Year Member
Jun 9, 2006
Linked and highlighted are excerpts from a recent speech by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

It is a four page speech with lots of interesting thoughts on higher education and the military.

A good opener:

When I was president of Texas A&M University, I used to wonder whether it was scarier to be responsible for a vast, global network of spies as I had been at CIA – or be responsible for some 45,000 students between the ages of 18 and 25. Well, now I’m responsible for more than two million men and women in uniform, most of college age – and all armed.

Specifically regarding ROTC and foreign language acquisition:

I am also working on a program to improve the language skills of the military through ROTC. Currently, language training, when it occurs, generally requires that we send troops to specialized schools – in effect, pulling them off the line for a period of time. It seems to me it would be preferable to integrate this training earlier, and so we have been looking at financial incentives for ROTC cadets to take language classes while undergraduates. Some languages are not offered at all schools, and so we are looking also at ways to award grants to schools to expand their language and cultural offerings to cadets. And obviously other students would benefit as well.

^^^financial incentives are a good idea. I wonder what the obligation might be.

Gates was speaking to the American Association of Universities and also addressed how the opposition to military service obliquely uses ROTC as a tool:

The small number of universities that do not permit ROTC programs tend to be higher-profile, and thus receive a disproportionate amount of attention whenever the issue of the military on campus comes up. We must move past whatever antagonism to ROTC still exists and demonstrate respect at the highest levels for those who choose to serve – whether that is by attending ROTC commissioning ceremonies, actively promoting the military as a career option, or giving full support to military recruiters on campus regardless of whether that access is tied to federal funding.

There is much more in the speech worth reading - China, Iraq, veterans returning to college, etc.
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