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JROTC History (unofficial)



     When Maj. Gen. Wagner took over Cadet Command in May 1986, JROTC did not figure prominently in his plans. Wagner shared the misgivings harbored by many Army officers about the program. To him and to them, Cadet Command was primarily about producing "warrior leaders," not about providing high school students with another extracurricular activity.

     Nevertheless, the realization soon dawned upon the new commander that he could not divest himself or the command of responsibility for JROTC. He would have to, despite his predilection to the contrary, attack its problems in the same way he did those of the senior program.

     He picked centralization and standardization of JROTC operations as the first order of business. When Wagner arrived at Fort Monroe, a single desk in the Training Division oversaw the entire JROTC program of almost 900 schools and 135,000 cadets. To turn things around, a new high school division (expanded to a directorate in 1988) was created. This division included an operations branch which directed the administrative and personnel aspects of the junior program and a training branch to monitor and manage the JROTC educational program and encampments. The functions of this division were gradually expanded, and by December 1987 included policy formulation, curriculum development, and resource management.

     Upgrading the quality and appearance of JROTC instructors was another objective high on Cadet Command’s list of priorities. In the past, far too many JROTC cadre members had been overweight, out of shape and lethargic in their approach to their duties. The general impression was that many of them had become JROTC instructors because they could not find employment elsewhere. The command moved to correct this situation by raising the qualification standards for instructor certification and enforcing these standards more stringently. Army regulation 145-2, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and National Defense Cadet Corps Organization, Operations, and Support was revised to reflect the new conditions for employment. Every instructor applicant had to meet Army height and weight standards and undergo an interview by regional authorities before being hired. The new regulation also emphasized that JROTC cadre members had to answer both to local school authorities and the Army – a fact that had been lost on some instructors. Unsatisfactory instructors could and would be "decertified," – in effect, fired.

     Wagner also sought to bring JROTC under centralized control by linking it closely with senior ROTC. Capt. Charles Dollar, an action officer in Cadet Command’s Training Directorate, developed a management system to accomplish this end. Under this system, dubbed the Umbrella Management System, every JROTC unit was placed under a senior battalion in its geographic proximity. Cadre members from senior units were required to inspect, visit, and assist JROTC programs in their area of responsibility on a regular basis. A military rating system was instituted to reflect this new organization. The rating chain ran from ROTC brigade commanders through senior ROTC battalion commanders down to individual JROTC unit leaders.

     Developing a new mission statement was another priority of Cadet Command. The one finally adopted in 1987 was To motivate young people to be good (later changed to better) Americans. This mission statement was intended as much to deflect political criticism as it was to express the actual purpose of the program. From the very inception of the JROTC, there had been critics who viewed it as little more than an attempt by the Army and the federal government to militarize American adolescents. While the new mission statement may have worked to counteract political sniping, it exposed the program’s flanks to its enemies in the Pentagon, who began to question anew why the Army should support an undertaking which was not designed to put soldiers in its ranks.

     Improving instruction was another facet of the command’s campaign to upgrade the JROTC program. Although the JRIP program of instruction had been adopted in 1985, it had never been fully implemented. Part of the problem lay in the instructional materials used to support it. JROTC instructors had to make due with an odd assortment of manuals and instructor guides that did not correlate with the textbooks they used. Workboards had been developed to correct these inconsistencies but, because of their poor quality, failed to do so. Funds had been identified to publish better instructional materials but they had been diverted. Only when Gen. Richardson, on the urging of Cadet Command, put his foot down and refused to publish the JRIP program of instruction without the supporting instructional materials did Lt. Gen. Elton finally free up the $1.7 million needed for their publication.

     It was deemed essential that the new JROTC literature be pertinent to both the environment and the educational objectives of the average secondary school student. Accordingly, the JRIP took educational publications geared toward soldiers and senior ROTC cadets and reworked them for use in JROTC. For example, students were introduced to map reading through the use of local city maps before being exposed to military maps. The new training materials were also "flexible" publications that allowed each instructor to tailor them to his or her specific needs.

     Operation Young Citizen was the name Cadet Command gave its restructuring of JROTC. Through this operation, high school students were to be prepared for "success" through the accomplishment of certain objectives, namely:

• Develop leadership and patriotism.
• Develop informed and responsible citizens.
• Strengthen character.
• Acquaint students with the technical requirements of the modern age.
• Develop an interest in the military services as a possible career.
• Develop oral and written communication skills.
• Familiarize students with the MQS 1.
• Acquaint students with the history, purpose, and structure of military services, emphasizing the accomplishments of the U.S. Army.
• Develop an appreciation of the value of physical and mental fitness.
• Develop the basic skills necessary to work effectively as a team member.
• Provide the motivation and means to graduate from high school.
• Develop self-confidence, responsibility, and a respect for authority.

     Ms. Donna Marks, chief of the JROTC Branch of the Training Division, headed up the program of instruction review process that included a comprehensive cadre survey, a series of national workshops and consultations with numerous civilian educators. The results obtained from this review process were used to prepare a final curriculum outline which contained the following major subject headings:

• Introduction to JROTC • Leadership and leadership lab
• Military history • Cadet Challenge
• Technology • Map reading
• Citizenship • First aid
• Communications • Drug awareness

     For each of the four leadership education and training instruction levels, student texts, student workbooks, instructor guides, and test banks were produced. The project was complete and the program of instruction fully implemented by the spring of 1990. The new curriculum differed markedly from the old one which had been adopted in 1980. Gone were the weapons training and tactical instruction that had been such a big part of the JROTC curricula in pre-Cadet Command days.

     Since 1989, program objectives and the program of instruction have undergone further refinement. Under Maj. Gen. Arnold, JROTC assumed even more of a citizenship development emphasis than it had under Wagner. Lowering school drop-out rates became a program objective and the military skills portion of the curriculum was further reduced. The following list shows the subjects included in the JROTC program of instruction in school year 1995-1996, and illustrates the direction JROTC took after Wagner handed over command Arnold, a direction that was later continued under Maj. Gen. Lyle.

JROTC Program of Instruction, 1995-1996

• Leadership • Communication
• Self-esteem • Physical Fitness
• Goal setting • Map Reading
• Ethics/Values • First Aid
• Human Relations • Technology Awareness
• Citizenship • Math Module
• Life Skills • Science Module
• American History • Career Opportunities
• Role of Armed Forces • Management/Budget
• Current Events

     The Cadet Challenge program had been started by Wagner for JROTC cadets when he was the commander of the Fourth Region. He introduced it into the rest of the ROTC community when he came to Fort Monroe. Cadet Challenge was a physically demanding activity designed to test the strength, speed, agility, and endurance of high school students and at the same time build teamwork and esprit-de-corps through individual and platoon competition. It served a purpose similar to that served by Ranger Challenge competition in the senior program.

     To improve the overall management of JROTC, Maj. Gen. Wagner placed the High School Division under the Operations Directorate in December 1988. He took this step not because the High School Division necessarily belonged there in an organization sense, but because Lt. Col. Hodson, chief of the Operations Directorate at the time, was the officer in the headquarters who knew the most about JROTC. The move was in keeping with the task force orientation of the command in its formative years – an orientation which resulted in the organization being sculpted to fit the capabilities of the personnel on hand.