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JROTC History (unofficial)



     From World War I through the 1970s, JROTC textbooks reflected the program’s emphasis on military training. Inter-war editions of JROTC manuals differed surprisingly little from those published in the 1960s and 1970s in their basic thrust. The 1939 edition of the junior ROTC manual, for example, contained chapters on the organization of the infantry, military sanitation, drill and command, the rifle and rifle marksmanship, scouting and patrolling, map reading, combat principles, rifle squad and musketry. An edition of the manual published some 30 years later included such topics as the characteristics and principles of military organization, small unit tactics, technique of fire of the rifle squad, tactics of the rifle squad, crew-served weapons, the 40-mm grenade launcher, the 3.5-inch rocket launcher, and the 66-mm HEAT rocket M72. Both editions could have been used as a primer in basic training.

     The first significant change in the JROTC curriculum occurred in the mid-1980s with the adoption of the JROTC Improvement Plan (JRIP). The central plank in the JRIP’s program of instruction was a recommendation that at least 50 percent of the JROTC curriculum be devoted to the field of technology. The intent was to motivate high school students to become scientists and engineers, which the Army desperately needed in its officer corps, and to attract more "academically-oriented" students and schools into JROTC, which historically had been concentrated in "poor schools that did not send people to college." The emphasis that the JRIP placed on science and technology meant that purely military training was relegated to a lesser though still prominent place in the curriculum.

     Closely related to the regular JROTC program of instruction was the encampment program. In 1973, JROTC received authorization to conduct summer camps. From the very beginning, however, the Defense Department provided very limited support to summer camp training. It authorized temporary duty pay, for example, only for the JROTC cadre who directly administered the camps. Everybody else, including cadets, had to pay their own way. In 1985, TRADOC requested funds to subsidize JROTC cadet attendance at summer training. The request was denied. One reason cited for the denial was the absence of any legal authorization for JROTC camp support. The service comptrollers, into whose lap the issue fell, questioned how the Defense Department would profit from monies spent on encampments, since JROTC enrollment levels had been satisfactory for some time without the advantage of additional funds.