Like a rhinoceros backing out of a bathtub, ROTC headquarters is defeating itself with its own ponderosity. Despite its predicament, it could pull out of the situation if it would turn around and work forwards. Yet with all college Army and Air Force units subject to governmental cutback drives between sophomore and junior years, the military insists on teaching last things first and dropping students without giving them any benefits from the abbreviated two-year program.
The Air Force ROTC unit here dropped 49 members of this year's junior class because they could not fly and didn't come under the limited quota of non-flyers. The Army unit has not yet curtailed its enrollment with such severity, but the threat has existed since the Korean war ended, and the scare flares perennially. Thus it would seem more reasonable for the Air Force and Army to instruct their first an dsecond-year students in the instruct their first and second-year students in the general, basic areas of their programs rather than in the technical aspects. If the student is forced to leave the unit later--this cannot be decided until after his sophomore year--he will take with him general knowledge, not technical data. For the undergraduate to get doped with details in the first two years of ROTC and then leave the program is a waste of everybody's time. As the ROTC curricula are now set up, benefit is derived from the first two years only when they are followed by the second two and an officer's commission.
The Air Force ROTC gives a course in world political geography in the senior year, and the Army gives its advanced students a History of Military Warfare. These are the courses, however, which most aptly fit into the sphere of liberal education. Certainly they would stand the two-year man in better stead than learning the armed forces' pay rates, the powder charge in a 10,000-pound bomb, and the differing millimeters of shells.
Just as one must learn the basic facts and symbols in any science--and in reading and writing, for that matter--before he can do the less disciplined advance work, the ROTC student must memorize some basic information in order to participate in drill. But the class of 1956 studied political geography in Air Science 1 and still learned enough technical material to march with everybody else.