ROTC on the chopping block

Let me be totally upfront with you: I normally have zero opinion about the military. The military in theory or practice just doesn’t play a large part in my life. Apart from complaints about the bloated defense budget (Seriously, the tanks you currently have aren’t good enough? Are you sure you need brand-spanking new ones?), I generally have no opinion, good or bad about the military. That’s why this editorial killed me. I had no idea what to write.

So I approached this situation from the standpoint of my only military opinion – budget. From what I can tell, we’re being cut for 2 reasons, and they’re both budget. First, we’re being cut because ROTC is essentially an education program. It is the training of future officers while they are attending university and preparing to become leaders in the defense of our country. And education is ALWAYS the first thing to get cut. Education is not an investment with an immediate return; it can be very difficult to see how any money spent on education, even military education, would be paid back in a reasonable amount.

So even though we can all agree that cutting education is a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD THING (done by soulless bureaucrats), we can all see how its bottom line puts it up on the chopping block so often. Especially when a program, such as ours, is measured according to Quantity, not Quality. For example, if we turn out 8 really good candidates a year, but the quota is 10 candidates, it doesn’t matter how excellent those people are — the national administration of the ROTC program can’t see that. All they see is that we’re not meeting quota. It’s an efficient system but like most things that see in black and white, color eludes it.

Education is heading to the guillotine because of the second reason: the military as a whole is having to trim the fat and tighten its belt. Because of the automatic spending cuts in the Budget Control Act of 2011, better known as the Sequestration, government spending was chopped all across the board, even in defense. Now, of course, just because they have to tighten their belts doesn’t mean the army’s going to go without its new tanks, or any fancy new drones. Nope. Why should they cut that when they can just cut all of the inefficient ROTC programs? That’ll save a few bucks.

Ridiculous. You can’t replace people. What’s going to happen when there are no more highly trained intelligent people to drive those tanks? Are you going to spend money you don’t have to build robots to drive the tanks you shouldn’t have bought? Robot-Soldiers=Bad Idea. Didn’t you see the Matrix?

In this whole sordid mess, I feel the most for our ROTC students. I can’t imagine planning your college career with the end goal of serving our country, only to get the rug ripped out from under you. Hopefully you will still be able to achieve your career goals, as well as the personal goals set by joining our armed forces.

I exhort all the Tennessee Tech family to remember this moment next election season. Remember that a source of our university’s pride and our national recognition has died. It was killed by a Capital that cares more about cushy committee placement and lobbyist lobster than the needs of the American people and their defense. Remember, remember, next November.