ROTC cadets staying at home

During his Jan. 23 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush proposed a new plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq to fight the War on Terror.

In light of Bush’s call for an increased presence of U.S. troops in the Middle East, some students question whether military affiliated groups on campus, particularly the cadets of the ROTC program, are liable to be called to war at any moment. According to the St. John’s ROTC Battalion recruiting operations officer Capt. Leonard J Sloat, however, there is no risk of cadets being shipped off.

“No ROTC cadet has been called up to go to war since World War II,” Sloat said. “And there’s no chance of that happening right now.”

ROTC, or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is a program whose purpose is to groom future officers in the U.S. military.

According to the ROTC mission statement, the objective of the program is to “provide students with an understanding of the fundamentals of responsibility, integrity and self-discipline, as well as an appreciation of the citizen’s role in national defense.”
According to Capt. Sloat, cadets cannot be considered on-call to be sent to Iraq because they are still college students.

Also, although they are enrolled in the Army ROTC, cadets are obligated to join the Army; therefore they are not fully trained and thus are ineligible to be sent to war.

ROTC students cannot be sent to war until they have enlisted in the Army and are positioned in either the Army, Army Reserves or the Army National Guard. At that point, they would no longer be considered cadets, but members of the U.S. Army.

These points are reinforced in the ROTC cadet contract under the section titled “Order to Active Duty in the Event of a War.”

This section reads “I understand that either as an enlisted member or as a commissioned officer in the Reserve component of the Army of the United States…I may be ordered to active duty…such call to active duty could be for the duration of a war or any period of time authorized by law.”

The one remaining risk of college students being sent to war is the institution of a draft. In those circumstances, any student selected would be required to report for service at the end of the current semester. Barring that, however, no St. John’s student will be required to enter the war.