Oct. 23, 2013 —
The federal government shutdown has ended and the members of Congress should be busy trying to undo the silliness of the last three weeks.
That fix-it checklist must include summoning the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army to Capitol Hill to explain and reverse their screwball decision to terminate Army ROTC at Morehead State University.
MSU was notified Oct. 2 that it is among 13 such programs to be phased out by 2015.
The Army ROTC program at the University of Pikeville will become collateral damage because it also will have to close because it is hosted by MSU’s program.
The geniuses at the Pentagon have graciously announced that juniors and seniors enrolled in
ROTC at the two institutions will be allowed to complete their courses of study to graduation and commissioning as second lieutenants.
But the kindness doesn’t end there. Freshmen and sophomores will be given the opportunity to transfer to other ROTC institutions.
Let’s pause for a brief history lesson to provide background for our outrage at this ill-conceived plan.
MSU’s Eagle Battalion was activated on Jan. 1, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War and incoming freshman males were required to enroll for two years.
That took place when other colleges and universities were closing their ROTC programs in the face of growing opposition to the Vietnam conflict.
President Adron Doran and the University took a great deal of criticism for that decision but it was widely accepted here in East Kentucky where patriotism has never gone out of style.
Eventually, like the full-time military, ROTC at MSU became voluntary and the program has flourished.
The ensuing 45 years of ROTC at MSU have produced more than 600 new officers for the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
Some of those new officers have been among the best in the entire nation.
For example, in 2006-07, MSU Cadet Shannon Niki Martin was ranked third of 3,806 cadets from 272 universities across the country.
And in 2010-11, MSU Cadet Commander Wesley Tudor was ranked first of 5,342 cadets from those same 272 institutions.
President Wayne D. Andrews, himself a Vietnam vet, is leading the fight against the decision.
He is living proof that the self-discipline and leadership skills learned in a military uniform can translate into civilian success.
Losing Army ROTC programs at MSU and UPIKE would leave most of our college students without the opportunity to earn a military officer’s commission.
In our view, they surely deserve better.