The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is a federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in high schools and also in some middle schools across the United States and United States military bases across the world. The program was originally created as part of the National Defense Act of 1916 and later expanded under the 1964 ROTC Vitalization Act.
Role and purpose
According to Title 10, Section 2031 of the United States Code, the purpose of Junior is "to instill in students in [United States] secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment." Additional objectives are established by the service departments of the Department of Defense. Under 542.4 of Title 32 (National Defense) of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Department of the Army has declared those objectives for each cadet to be:
Section 524.5 of the CFR National Defense title states in part that JROTC should "provide meaningful leadership instruction of benefit to the student and of value to the Armed Forces. ...Students will acquire: (1) An understanding of the fundamental concept of leadership, military art and science, (2) An introduction to related professional knowledge, and (3) An appreciation of requirements for national security. The dual roles of citizen/soldier and soldier/citizen are studied. ... These programs will enable cadets to better serve their country as leaders, as citizens, and in military service should they enter it. ... The JROTC and NDCC are not, of themselves, officer-producing programs but should create favorable attitudes and impressions toward the Services and toward careers in the Armed Forces."
The military has stated that JROTC will inform young Americans about the opportunities available in the military and "may help motivate young Americans toward military service." A 1999 Army policy memorandum stated that "While not designed to be a specific recruiting tool, there is nothing in existing law that precludes ... facilitating the recruitment of young men and women into the U.S. Army," directing instructors to "actively assist cadets who want to enlist in the military [and] emphasize service in the U.S. Army; facilitate recruiter access to cadets in JROTC program and to the entire student body ... [and] work closely with high school guidance counselors to sell the Army story." In a February 2000 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, the armed service chiefs of staff testified that 30%–50% of graduating JROTC cadets go on to join the military:
General Colin Powell said in his 1995 autobiography that "the armed forces might get a youngster more inclined to enlist as a result of Junior ROTC," but added that "Inner-city kids, many from broken homes, found stability and role models in Junior ROTC." US Congress found in the Recruiting, Retention, and Reservist Promotion Act of 2000 that JROTC and similar programs "provide significant benefits for the Armed Forces, including significant public relations benefits." Former United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen referred to JROTC as "one of the best recruitment programs we could have."
Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces maintains a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, organized into units. As of June 2006, there are a total of 3,275 units:
Prior to 1967 the number of units was limited to 1,200. The cap was increased to 1,600 units in 1967 and again to 3,500 units in 1992; the statutory limitation on the number of units was struck from the law in 2001. Their goal is to reach 3,500 units by Feb. 2011 by encouraging program expansion into educationally and economically deprived areas.
Units are set up according to the layout of their parent service, often referred to as the "Chain of Command." Army JROTC units follow a company (usually the period the class is held in), battalion (all periods), and at larger events brigade (multiple battalions) structure. Marine Corps JROTC units follow the battalion, or in cases of larger size, brigade structure. Air Force JROTC units are composed structurally based on size (wing if more than 251 cadets, group if more than 101, squadron if more than 51, Flight if 26, element is more than 2 less no more than 8, detail is 2, individual is 1). Navy JROTC typically follows the company (100-149 cadets), battalion (150-299 cadets), or regiment (300+ cadets) structure depending on the size of the unit.
JROTC is partly funded by the United States Department of Defense with an allocation in the military budget of about 340 million dollars for the fiscal year 2007, of which about 68 million are personnel costs. The federal government subsidizes instructor salaries, cadet uniforms, equipment and textbooks. The instructors, usually retired military personnel, continue to receive retirement pay from the Federal government, but in addition, the schools pay the difference from what the instructors would receive if they were on active duty. The service concerned then reimburses the school for approximately one-half of the amount paid by the school to the instructor.
Although active duty officers may be assigned, most instructors are retired from the sponsoring branch of the Armed Forces. In the Army JROTC program, the cadet unit at each school is directed by at least one retired commissioned officer, a Senior Army Instructor (SAI), (in the grade of Captain through Colonel) or a Warrant Officer (WO1 through CW5) and at least one retired Non-Commissioned Officer, an Army Instructor (AI), (in the grade of Staff Sergeant through Command Sergeant Major). In certain situations there may be additional instructors.
A new provision from the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (Section 540) was signed into law in October 2006, permitting retired Reserve Component officers and noncommissioned officers to be hired as instructors.
There are no national requirements that JROTC instructors have the teaching credential required by other teachers in public high school. In at least one jurisdiction (California), the government requires JROTC instructors to have at least four years of military experience and possess a high school diploma or equivalent. AJROTC instructors need to be within one year of retirement or retired from active military service for five or fewer years. MCJROTC instructors need to have graduated from high school, have at least 20 years of active military service and be physically qualified according to Marine Corps standards.
AFJROTC previously required a minimum of 20 years of active duty but has since been overridden by a provision in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (Section 540), signed into law in October 2006, permitting retired Reserve Component (e.g., Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard officers and noncommissioned officers to be hired as instructors. Officer instructors need to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, while a high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient for enlisted instructors.
For AJROTC the Non-commissioned Officer has to attain an associate degree (AA), with teaching credential, in order to be assigned an AI. To be assigned as a SAI the AJROTC Instructor has to hold a BA degree, with teaching credentials.
NJROTC also required a minimum of 20 years of active duty until it was overridden by a provision in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (Section 540), signed into law in October 2006, permitting retired Reserve Component (e.g., U.S. Navy Reserve officers, chief petty officers and petty officers to be hired as instructors. The minimum education requirement for an enlisted naval science instructor is a high school diploma or equivalent, with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university required for a commissioned officer senior naval science instructor. The Navy requires that JROTC instructors be employees of the school and that they are accorded the same status as other school faculty members.
National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) offers similar programs as JROTC. NDCC units differ from JROTC in that they receive little or no financial support from the Armed Forces; uniforms, equipment, other materials and instructor salaries must normally be furnished by the school hosting an NDCC program. Except for the funding aspects, JROTC and NDCC programs are virtually identical, although the cadet corps is not limited by the federal statute that restricts JROTC to offering courses only for students in ninth through 12th grades. Per 2005, Chicago had 26 Middle School Cadet Corps enlisting more than 850 kids.
Instruction and activities
The Code of Federal Regulations states that JROTC is "designed for physically fit citizens attending participating schools." In public schools, JROTC is usually an elective course with membership limited to US citizens and legal foreign nationals, those who will graduate with their 9th grade cohort, and have not experienced an out of school suspension during the preceding six-month period. Often, students who participate for one year receive credit in lieu of a physical education class. Students who excel in the first year of JROTC can apply for a second year. Most schools offer three to four years of JROTC training.
Boarding schools or (pre-college) military schools may offer JROTC programs, with some requiring participation as a condition for acceptance to the school. Some public military schools mandate JROTC as a class for all grade levels, and have a curriculum that includes military history, military protocol, civics and physical fitness. Chicago has six public military academies, more than any other city and one-third of all in the country.
The JROTC program stresses military discipline, with a curriculum that emphasizes study of military science and military history. Cadets typically wear their uniforms once or twice a week, usually standing for inspection, with the exception being those cadets who attend a JROTC-based military academy. Their creed encourages conduct that brings credit to family, country, school and the corps of cadets, loyalty, citizenship and patriotism. Many cadets participate in extracurricular activities such as drill, color guard, rocketry or orienteering. At least two-thirds of JROTC units offer rifle marksmanship programs, and most of these have rifle or pistol teams. During the school year, there are regional competitions between JROTC units, with testing in all areas of military, naval and aerospace science. Some units organize special visits to US military bases during school breaks. There are also many summertime "leadership academies" for cadets hosted by various military installations.
Cadets who maintain a certain grade point average may be eligible to participate in various honor societies. For example, the Kitty Hawk Air Society is an Honor Society for the Air Force JROTC. Kitty Hawk Air Societies are usually divided up into chapters, each chapter being named after a famous Air Force related person or thing and based in a single AFJROTC unit. The purpose of KHAS is to further instill leadership and teamwork qualities in cadets. KHAS chapters usually take part in community service activities ranging from Adopt a Highway to American Cancer Society fund raising to tutoring other students within the unit and school.
Cadets may be awarded ribbons, ribbon devices, medals and aiguillettes for participation in JROTC and team activities, as well as for personal academic and athletic achievement and leadership. Awards may be presented by organizations other than the cadet's JROTC program, such as other JROTC programs, Military Officers Association of America, American Veterans, Order of the Daedalians, American Legion, and the National Rifle Association. Ribbons and medals are positioned in order of precedence, as prescribed by the Cadet Field Manual and the senior JROTC instructor.
Some units also host an annual formal military ball (mess dress) and formal dinner. Usually awards are presented. Female cadets are generally excused from wearing the dress uniform for military ball.
Sometimes units also have a separate awards ceremony, which is attended by the instructors, guests, and parents. Fraternal organizations, such as the American Legion, often give out awards for military excellence, academics, and citizenship, in addition to the standard awards given by the JROTC program.
The year may be finished with a change of command ceremony, where the new unit commander, executive officer, and other unit officers are named and take command from the current officers. Mid-level officers are also named. Some units choose the next year's NCO and junior officer corps based on officer and NCO candidate schools, usually held immediately following the end of the school year.
There are other extracurricular activities that the JROTC's programs provide for their cadets, including trips to military installations, ROTC college programs, and other sites that give the cadets a look at the military community.
Successful completion of a JROTC Program (1–3 years of classes) can lead to advanced rank upon enlistment in the Armed Forces. For example, upon completion of 3 years of Air Force JROTC, cadets may at their instructor's discretion enlist in the Air Force at the rank of Airman First Class (E-3). However, JROTC participation incurs no obligation to join the military.
A JROTC unit (through the Senior Instructor) may recommend current JROTC cadets for nomination to the Service Academy of the unit's branch. JROTC units designated as Honor Units may nominate up to three cadets to the Service Academy of any branch, in addition to the nominations to the unit's own branch academy.
Career military who were members of JROTC
Many members of JROTC go on to have careers in the United States Armed Forces. Some notable former members of JROTC include:
There has been controversy about JROTC and militarism in schools. The American Friends Service Committee, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, and the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, actively oppose the JROTC for a number of reasons, including:
The Coalition For Alternatives to Militarism in Our Schools, formed by more than 50 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, aims to "eliminate the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps in our High Schools." Many cases of abuse by JROTC instructors, as well as credentialing issues, and of having students forced into JROTC due to lack of space in Physical Education classes have been noted in Los Angeles Public Schools. The group claims 2006 showed a reduction in JROTC enrollment in Los Angeles, with a drop of one-third or approximately 1,500 students, suggesting part of the explanation is efforts to stop the involuntary enrollment of students into JROTC. At Roosevelt High School in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, a local campaign against JROTC cut the number of cadets 43 percent in four years, with a JROTC instructor reporting a 24 percent drop in enrollment from 2003-04 to 2006-07 for the rest of the Los Angeles unified School District.
In October 2005, the New York Civil Liberties Union pressured Hutchinson Central Technical High School in Buffalo, New York to release students from a mandatory JROTC program, arguing that the practice violates the State’s Education Law, which provides that no child may be enrolled in JROTC without prior written parental consent.
In May 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union stated that JROTC violates the United Nations sponsored Convention on the Rights of the Child by targeting students as young as 14 for recruitment to the military. The United States has not ratified the Convention, although it has ratified an optional protocol to the Convention on "the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict." However, recruiting is not an official goal of JROTC, as stated in United States Code pertaining to the program. Nor is it a stated goal in each of the individual service's JROTC program mission statements.