With ROTC program gone, Augusta loses pride, opportunity

  • Follow Opinion columns

We should be saddened by the U.S. Army’s decision to close the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Georgia Regents University Augusta.

AT LEAST ONCE before, the school successfully resisted such action by the Army. In early 1995 at what was then Augusta College, the program faced elimination because of a lower-than-desired number of commissioned officers. But knowing of the long association of Augusta with the Army, and serving as president of a college on property that had served as a United States arsenal under the command of the Army, I sought support to convince the Army to reconsider its pending decision.

Much of that support came from the late Lt. Gen. Douglas Buchholz, then commanding general at Fort Gordon. Some came from the office of U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn. As a result, Assistant Secretary of the Army Sara Lister visited our campus, interviewed cadets and met with me.

The result was a continuation – with vigor – of the Augusta College program.

In the years that followed that turnaround, the Jaguar ROTC Battalion continually met its mission (which means commissioning the number of second lieutenants set by the Army’s Cadet Command). It did so under the superb leadership of a series of Army officers from major to colonel, assigned by the Army to Augusta College and then Augusta State University, and by award-winning cadets.

I always felt privileged to serve at an institution that provided the nation with well-educated and committed military leaders. I also took pride in an ROTC battalion that was not limited to ASU students. At various times, men and women pursuing degrees at Paine College, USC Aiken, Troy University and other local institutions could become Jaguar cadets, learn military science in ASU classrooms and launch their careers as Army officers.

MANY OF THE cadets already had served as enlisted personnel at Fort Gordon, where the Army’s “Green to Gold” program encouraged those who qualified to become officers through ROTC.

Many also were from disadvantaged backgrounds, including disadvantaged urban backgrounds.

All of them enriched the university with their dedication and their willingness to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Those are the words of the oath of office taken when cadets, upon graduation, become Army officers and accept “without any mental reservation” an obligation that may put them directly in harm’s way.

The death of Maj. Stephen Long, a former Augusta College cadet who was killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, was a constant reminder of the harm’s way that cadets might later face.

My last formal speech as president of Augusta State University was at an ROTC banquet in late April of last year. Looking out at a large audience of formally attired cadets, family members, personnel in the ASU Department of Military Science and many others, I claimed that the Jaguar Battalion may very well be the best in the nation.

Eleven months later, the Jaguar Battalion placed first in leadership development and other standards among more than 200 across the country. It was best in the nation – and, in my experience, a program that did everything right to meet the university’s ethical and academic expectations.

IF THE ARMY’S decision to shut the program is irreversible, Georgia Regents University becomes less than what it could be. Moreover, this community – largely, as I often been told, an “Army town,” and the home of thousands of veterans – loses a source of both pride and opportunity.

(The writer is president emeritus of Augusta State University, and a professor of English and American studies at Georgia Regents University Augusta.)

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 10/13/13 - 05:36 am
2
1
That was then . . .

This is now.

Greengolf
70
Points
Greengolf 10/13/13 - 07:48 am
3
0
Bloodworth is right

We need more ROTC, even if it is just for the discipline that it instills. Even if the kids don't commission it is heartwarming to walk by Augusta College in the morning (at 6 am) and listen to the 100 or so young men or women taking part in PT.

avidreader
3236
Points
avidreader 10/13/13 - 07:59 am
1
4
Sorry, Dr. B.!

I empathize with the situation, but I also have respect for a governmental institution that finally decides to make tough decisions that will save our taxpayers tons of money. GRU is among a list of numerous ROTC programs that have been shut down. There is no doubt that GRU's program is outstanding, but there is a real financial crisis in our country, and our armed forces must share in a commitment to take a few lumps.

Hopefully, our entire armed forces will trim the ranks through RIFs and attrition and there will be no need for all of the ROTC officers that we now commission into active service.

And, Dr. Bloodworth, I make these comments with the utmost respect for you and the institution that you have nurtured for so many years.

avidreader
3236
Points
avidreader 10/13/13 - 08:06 am
0
0
To Greengolf!

I will also miss the many cadets running the streets of Summerville in the early-morning hours.

billcass
800
Points
billcass 10/13/13 - 10:26 am
0
0
Wrong

I am an Army veteran. I have great admiration for ROTC programs in general. But this was the right decision. We are out of money. Everybody agrees that we should cut programs, except "their" programs. If this particular programs was not worth the expense of my tax dollars, then kudos to the DOD for making the hard, but correct call, to shut it down.

deestafford
27793
Points
deestafford 10/13/13 - 10:40 am
1
0
It appears to me that it was a sham job to get rid of the

program. From what I read in the paper the program was given a maximum number of cadets it could commission and that number was below the number who wanted to be commissioned. Then the school was told it would have to close its ROTC program because it was not producing enough officers even though it was producing the maximum number allowed?

It's my understanding the school wanted and had the capability to graduate more commissioned officers but was not allowed to by quota.

Remember the last part of the article where it said the Army was wanting to increase the number of ROTC programs in "disadvantaged areas"? So, what is happening they are closing productive programs like at ASU and opening affirmative action programs in "urban" areas. Just what the Army needs....more affirmative action officers in this day and time. Way to go Obama!!

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 10/13/13 - 01:59 pm
2
0
Slum

Well, deestafford, Grooo's Frog Hollow campus sits in the new slum designation. That ought to qualify as a "disadvantaged area."

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 10/13/13 - 02:55 pm
4
1
Dr. Bloodworth kept the ROTC

Dr. Bloodworth kept the ROTC program here. Dr. Azziz didn't.

deestafford
27793
Points
deestafford 10/13/13 - 06:33 pm
2
0
Riverman,

Excellent point. It was so blinding obvious to the most causal observer that I missed it.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs