Department of Military Science

ROTC History

Making the best military officers in the world; motivating young people to be better citizens.

The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), as it exists today, began with President Wilson signing the National Defense Act of 1916. Although military training had been taking place in civilian colleges and universities as early as 1819, the signing of the National Defense Act brought this training under single, federally-controlled entity: The Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

Army ROTC is the largest officer-producing organization with the American military, having commissioned more than half a million second lieutenants since its inception.

In April 1986, the U.S. Army Cadet Command was formed. With its headquarters at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Cadet Command assumed responsibility for more than 400 senior ROTC units, four regional headquarters, and the Junior ROTC with programs in more than 800 high schools. Cadet Command transformed the ROTC from a decentralized organization turning out a heterogeneous group of junior officers into a centralized command producing lieutenants of high and uniform quality. An improved command and control apparatus, an intensification and standardization of training, and improvements in leadership assessment and development helped produce this transformation of pre-commissioning preparation.

Today, Army ROTC has well over 250 programs located at colleges and universities throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia , Puerto Rico with an enrollment of more than 35,000. It produces approximately 60 percent of the second lieutenants who join the active Army, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve. More than 40 percent of current active duty Army General Officers were commissioned through the ROTC.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command selects, educates, trains, and commissions college students to be officers and leaders of character in the Total Army; instills the values of citizenship, national and community service, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment in high school students.