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JROTC History (unofficial)

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POST VIETNAM ERA, 1970-1985

     The end of the Vietnam War and the elimination of the draft in the early 1970s ushered in a new era for JROTC, and new challenges. At a time when public esteem for the military profession was low, the Army felt compelled to exploit more fully the junior program’s potential as a recruiting source. Accordingly, junior cadets were authorized to enlist in the regular Army in the advanced grades of E-2 through E-4, depending on their performance and experience in JROTC. Qualified JROTC graduates were given a special honors category for nomination to the United States Military Academy. JROTC received another stimulus in July 1976, when President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-361, which raised the authorized number of JROTC units from 1,200 to 1,600. The Army received 200 of these new units. Due to the lack of funding, however, only 20 new units were actually brought on line before 1980.

     During this same period, women won the right to enroll in JROTC. A court ruling in the summer of 1972 declared the exclusion of females from the JROTC to be "discriminatory." The first female cadets entered the program at the beginning of school year 1972-1973. Over the next two decades, female representation in JROTC grew steadily. By 1993, female cadets comprised over 40 percent of the corps.

     The beginning of the 1980s witnessed another flurry of official activity relative to JROTC. At this time the Army Recruiting Command commander, desiring to tap the new-found enthusiasm of American adolescents for military service, directed his subordinates to work closely with JROTC cadre to identify recruitment prospects. This step underlined once again the Army’s traditional view of the JROTC as a source of enlisted recruits. In September 1980 Congress passed Public Law 96-342, which lowered the mandatory JROTC unit enrollment level from 100 to an amount not less than ten percent of the host institution’s enrollment, thereby paving the way for increased institutional participation in the program.

     These measures reversed the post-Vietnam slump in program growth. By 1983, enrollment stood at more than 5,600 above its 1974 level. These promising results encouraged Army leaders to proceed with the expansion provided for by Public Law 94-361. Over the next two years, 120 additional units were brought into the JROTC fold. Enrollment experienced a proportional increase.

     Unfortunately, JROTC growth proceeded in a haphazard fashion. No clear design or idea guided the expansion process. The JROTC program did not have a mission statement. Units were brought on line with a minimum of prior planning and the results clearly showed it.

     Many of the program’s ills were due to inadequate staffing levels, a reflection of the low priority the Army attached to the JROTC. There was no permanent staff to select new units, supervise or inspect the cadre, or look after the resource needs of the junior division. In the Office of the DCSROTC, one full-time civilian supervised the entire operation. Some ROTC regions did not have a JROTC management cell.

     The diffuseness of the JROTC management structure compounded JROTC’s troubles. It allowed the regions to run the program in essentially any manner they saw fit. The result was that no two regions staffed, organized, or administered their JROTC division (if they had one) in the same way. JROTC staffing and administration became so confused that the Chief of Staff of the Army’s ROTC study group could not determine the "real" staffing levels at region headquarters.


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