End of Iraq War unlikely to affect ROTC programs

With the official end of the Iraq War, the university’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs did not plan to make any major changes, a program official said.

Lt. Col. Christopher Talcott, senior officer of the Army ROTC program and chair of the military science department, said annual enrollment in the ROTC program had remained consistent over the past 10 years and said he did not expect to see the trend change after the end of the war.

“The philosophy of getting great men and women hasn’t changed at all,” Talcott said. “Our message still remains as a great education at the university and a great opportunity to become a commissioned officer. We still see students who are excited to serve their nation and defend it.”

With the end of active duty in Iraq, there was still plenty of room in the military for more people, Talcott said.

“We still need soldiers; we still need leaders,” he said.

However, there likely would be more cadets sent into the Army Reserve or into the Army National Guard following graduation as opposed to active duty, Talcott said.

Lt. Col. Jara Lang, the Air Force ROTC detachment commander, said the university’s Air Force ROTC program did not expect to see much impact from the end of active duty in Iraq either. However, she said she hoped to see a boost in enrollment from veterans returning to pursue an education.

“I think that with the drawdown, in my opinion, we will see many people leave the service,” Lang said. “Those people will be looking for what’s next. With the job market and the economy in the status they are in, college is a great step for these men and women. Will they apply to the Air Force ROTC? I hope so.”

Students in the ROTC programs were still optimistic about their futures, despite the decline in active duty overseas.

H.D. Woodruff III, a University of Texas at Arlington student and TCU Air Force ROTC cadet, said he intended to join the Air Force as a pilot. He said that no matter the nation’s circumstances, there would always be an opportunity in the Air Force for skilled pilots.

“There’s always going to be a need,” Woodruff said. “You still need guys for humanitarian lifts. You need fighter pilots for protection at events like the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of opportunities for young pilots.”

Christopher Gonzalez, a junior enrolled in the Army ROTC program, said he was one of the cadets who may see time in either the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard.

“After I graduate, I’ll probably be looking at a reservist position and find work as a police officer or do something in civilian work,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll still be doing military work, but just likely not active duty overseas.”

Clint Stephens, a junior also enrolled in the Army ROTC program, said he would be fine with anywhere the program would place him, but that he desired an active duty job.

“I don’t mind going somewhere for my country,” Stephens said. “But if I had the choice, I’d love to go active duty. If you look at it as a whole though, I’m getting a fantastic education paid for by the program, and I can’t complain about that. If I go reserves, I’m fine with that [too].”