Texas ROTC programs to face cutbacks
Feb. 24, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 23, 2014 at 8:24 p.m.
HOUSTON (AP) - Nearly a third of ROTC units at Texas colleges are no longer producing enough officers and are facing federal scrutiny that could lead to cutbacks.
Eight of the state's 22 units are being reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, the Houston Chronicle reported, with 237 being looked at nationwide.
Congress dissolved 13 units serving 166 cadets last year in 10 states, and nine of them fell under the threshold of producing at least 15 officers to make the programs cost-effective.
In the past decade, Texas A&M has led the nation in producing ROTC officers, said retired Army Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez Jr., commandant of the corps at Texas A&M. In 2012, the program graduated 154 of the 595 officers who completed the training. Only The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, surpassed that number, with 174.
Texas A&M brings in recruits from 40 states and 16 countries by offering in-state tuition to students who obtain a scholarship of at least $1,000.
ROTC produces 48 percent of junior officers needed each year. The U.S. Department of Defense invests hundreds of millions of dollars to graduate about 9,000 ROTC officers each year, with the money going to 1,672 officers, 929 enlisted personnel and 858 civilians who teach and administer the program.
Training costs spike to up to $95,000 per person in units that annually produce fewer than 15 officers, compared to a per-graduate cost of $42,000 in units that produce 30 or more officers.
Other Texas schools that produce officers are: University of Texas at San Antonio (54 in 2012), Texas Christian University (45) and the University of Texas at El Paso (39). Meanwhile, only eight Army officers graduated from the Texas A&M Corpus Christi campus and nine from the A&M Kingsville campus.
Pentagon officials have said they plan to implement changes sought by the GAO. The defense department will establish an evaluation process for ROTC units, Jeffrey Mayo, director of accession policy at the Pentagon, told the newspaper.
Cadets understand they'll have to deal with troop reductions, said Eric Gil, the graduating corps commander at Texas A&M.
"We're going out prepared for those cuts and understanding that we're going into a very small military," he said.
ROTC was created almost a century ago and has helped broaden the military's officer ranks with more minorities and those from blue-collar backgrounds.